Two of a Kind
Tennis star Martina Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam winner, is on the grounds this week, watching her boyfriend Sergio Garcia compete.
Sergio, who is seeking his first major title, said he has talked with Hingis on what it takes to win an historic event.
She is in a very similar position to me, he said. She knows what Im going through. She knows what it feels to be in this kind of position. And thats helpful. To me, it takes a lot of weight off my shoulders to be able to talk to somebody that understands that.
Rain Doesn't Slow Greens
Overnight rains did little to help players navigate the greens Thursday.
I didnt see them playing a whole lot softer or slower than the practice rounds, said Dudley Hart, who played in the first group out in round one. I was surprised. Fortunately, I didnt have too many long putts.
Hart took 25 putts in shooting 1-under 69. But regardless of distance, all putts had the ability to be dangerous.
They are faster than at any U.S. Open, said Phil Mickelson of the speed of the greens. Theyre rolling 14 on the stimpmeter. To say 14 on the stimpmeter is hard to comprehend or put in terms ' if the average player has a seven-foot putt, it would roll by seven feet.
Its difficult to make putts or feel like you can be aggressive on the greens.
Mickelson officially used his putter 31 times in round one. And even though he commented on the greens buttery surface, he added they were also the best rolling poa annua greens that Ive ever seen. You can make a lot of putts if you read them right.
The Importance of Driving
Putting wasnt Harts primary concern entering the first round.
I had about eight drivers on the range yesterday at about 1:00 (PM) trying to find a club, he said. It wasnt the driver as much as it was my swing.
Hart and his brother-in-law, Mark, finally found a solution, if only a temporary one, and took it to the course Thursday. The driver of choice came in handy, as he used it 10 times. Hart hit 11 of the 14 fairways, which measure, on average, 24-28 yards in width.
I drove the ball pretty well for the most part, he said. Ive got nowhere else to go, Ive got to stay with it. Ive gotten the ball in the fairway more often than not, and in the practice rounds, that wasnt the case.
Hart finished his first round with three consecutive birdies. He was then asked if he wanted the round to continue.
Im glad to be done, he said with an exhausted smile. Its a long day, playing 18 holes on this golf course, and I dont want to play 19 or 20 ' 18 is fine.
Hale Irwin and Tom Kite criticized reigning U.S. Senior Open champion Bruce Fleisher for withdrawing prior to the start of the U.S. Open because he felt he could not be competitive.
Irwin, a three-time U.S. Open champion in on a special exemption this week, shot 12-over 82 Thursday. 1992 Open champion Kite, who tied for fifth last year, shot 80.
Still, Irwin felt playing was the right thing to do.
Absolutely, I do, Irwin said. Obviously, Im not happy with the way I played, but I was out there. I look forward to next year. At least I was here.
Handling the Pressure
Derek Tolan admitted to being nervous in shooting 8-over 78. But wouldn't you be if you were 16 years old and playing in your first U.S. Open?
'I didn't think I was going to be all that nervous, but you could just watch the tapes. I was walking funny,' he said. 'I was so nervous, I forgot how to breathe.'
Full coverage from the 102nd U.S. Open