Oakmont Putting Up a Fight

By Associated PressJune 14, 2007, 4:00 pm
2007 U.S. OpenOAKMONT, Pa. -- Oakmont was as easy as it gets. The U.S. Open was as tough as ever.
 
Even with a half-inch of rain on the eve of the championship and several hole locations that showed a compassionate side of the USGA, Nick Dougherty and Angel Cabrera were the only players who managed to break par Thursday in an opening round that left players wondering if the worst was ahead of them.
 
Dougherty, a 25-year-old from England, played in the fourth group of the still morning and quickly raised hopes of ending a European drought in the majors that stretches back to 1999. He took only 11 putts on the back nine in his round of 2-under 68, a score not many thought possible earlier in the week.
 
'I think the course is -- I hate saying it -- easy,' Dougherty said, sounding like that might come back to haunt him. 'Goodness, I shouldn't have said that. No, absolutely not. The course is barbaric.'
 
Cabrera was one of only two players who reached 3 under, and lost a share of the lead with a bogey on the 313-yard 17th.
 
Two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal shot even-par 70, while the large group at 71 included Tiger Woods, defending champion Geoff Ogilvy, Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh.
 
Woods holed a 12-foot birdie putt on the sixth hole that put him 1 under, his first time in red numbers at this major since the second round at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2005. He gave it back two holes later and never caught up to par.
 
'It's as easy as it's going to play, and it's still pretty hard,' Woods said. 'Imagine if it didn't rain last night.'
 
With greens that Olazabal described as rock-hard only a day ago, Oakmont was softened by the Wednesday night thunderstorms and cloud cover through the better part of the morning. The greens were still fast, but players had to guard against too much spin with a wedge in their hands, and some longer irons didn't roll too far away.
 
Phil Mickelson didn't make a birdie in his round of 74. He didn't break his wrist, either.
 
It was his highest opening round at the U.S. Open in 10 years, and all things considered, it wasn't too bad. Mickelson, dealing with inflammation in his left wrist that requires him to wear a brace, played 18 holes for the first time since he won The Players Championship. He didn't have many looks at birdie, but he played the final eight holes without a bogey.
 
'We've got a long ways to go,' he said. 'I just need one good round tomorrow to get me in it for the weekend. I fought the last eight holes to keep me in it, and if I do well tomorrow, that's all I care about.'
 
There wasn't anything too crazy at Oakmont, other than Tom Byrum hitting through the ninth green and into one of the holes on the putting green. He got a free drop and escaped with par.
 
There weren't too many spectacular crashes, just high scores. Seventeen players failed to break 80, while Sergio Garcia parred his last three holes to shoot 79. Masters champion Zach Johnson shot 76 and wasn't sure what to think about it.
 
'It's hard to figure out what par is,' Johnson said. 'I didn't make any big numbers. But I didn't make any birdies.'
 
He was far from alone. In all, 28 players failed to make a single birdie.
 
Oakmont could not have been more gentle when Ken Duke opened the 107th championship by pulling his tee shot to the left and still managing to make a birdie. The greens were receptive from the downpour Wednesday night and morning dew. The overcast skies made the course at least feel vulnerable.
 
Some guys even entertained the idea of attacking.
 
David Toms was 3 under with six holes left in his opening round when he found one too many bunkers, hit one too many shots into the rough. Before he knew it, he had five more bogeys on his card for a 72.
 
'I was playing perfect golf,' Toms said. 'I was hitting all the fairways, I was hitting smart shots into the green. Then all of a sudden, I wasn't playing great. And I paid the price. You can make bogey after bogey after bogey.'
 
It was a score he gladly would have taken earlier in the week. But a lot of players felt that way.
 
Ernie Els, a playoff winner when the U.S. Open last came here in 1994, was 1 under par as he headed for the turn, then the birdies dried up and the bogeys kept flowing.
 
'Monday or Tuesday, I would have taken a 73 and been happy,' Els said. 'I can shoot something under par. I know I can.'
 
No one was talking that way when they arrived to find firm fairways and frightening greens, the trademark at Oakmont. When the defending champion played a practice round a week ago, he figured 10-over 290 would be enough to win by five shots.
 
'Right now, 10 over is not going to win if it stays like this,' Ogilvy said. 'There are birdies out there.'
 
Woods had few complaints with his start, especially the way he finished. He now has gone five straight rounds in the majors without breaking par, but he was fortunate to be only 1 over. Woods had to make an 8-foot par putt on the 16th, made a nifty pitch for birdie on the short 17th, then gouged a chip out of the deep rough around the 18th green to 3 feet for another par save.
 
'I could have lost three shots there,' he said.
 
That was important because of what Oakmont offers, which is not much. Woods spoke of golf courses and major championships where a player can pick up an easy birdie. But not at Oakmont.
 
'On this golf course, there are none,' he said.
 
What it left was a bunched leaderboard, only two players in red numbers, starting with Dougherty.
 
Europe might own the Ryder Cup, but it has not produced a major champion since Paul Lawrie in the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie. The last British player to win the U.S. Open was Tony Jacklin in 1970 at Hazeltine.
 
'If I can just cling on now for the next 54 holes, I'll do it,' Dougherty said with a smile.
 
Indeed, there is a long way to go, and Oakmont doesn't figure to get any easier.
 
'It wasn't easy by any means,' Singh said. 'You have to still hit the fairways and you have to hit the greens. I think the pin placements ... the tough ones are still out there. So we are in for a long week.'
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Open
  • American Junior Golf Association

    Junior golfer's amazing run: ace, albatross, birdie

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 11:03 pm

    While most of the golf world had its attention focused on Scotland and The Open Championship at Carnoustie on Thursday, the REALLY remarkable performance of the day was taking place in Halifax, Mass.

    There, in an American Junior Golf Association tournament, a 16-year-old Thai player made a hole-in-one and an albatross on consecutive holes.

    According to the AJGA, Conor Kelly holed a 5-iron shot on the 198-yard, par-3 eighth hole. It was his first hole-in-one. He then holed a 4-iron second shot from 220 yards on the 480-yard ninth holer for the albatross. (We're gonna go out on a limb and say it was his first albatross.)

    Certainly a nice way to make the turn - but Kelly wasn't finished. He birdied the par-4 10th for a 1-2-3 sequence on his scorecard. For the day, he shot a 5-under 67 in the AJGA Junior Golf Hub Championship at the Country Club of Halifax.

    Getty Images

    McIlroy, Rahm betting co-favorites after Open Round 1

    By Will GrayJuly 19, 2018, 10:10 pm

    They're both three shots off the lead, but after starting The Open with rounds in the 60s Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm are now betting co-favorites to lift the claret jug at Carnoustie.

    McIlroy is four years removed from his Open triumph at Royal Liverpool, while Rahm remains in search of his first major title. Both carded rounds of 2-under 69 in Scotland to sit three shots off the lead of Kevin Kisner. While McIlroy started the tournament at 16/1 and Rahm at 20/1, they're now dead even at 10/1 in updated odds at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.

    Kisner started the week at 200/1, but after an opening-round 66 he's quickly been trimmed to 25/1. Tony Finau sits one shot behind Kisner and is now listed behind only McIlroy and Rahm at 12/1 after starting the tournament at 60/1.

    On the other side of the coin, consensus pre-tournament betting favorite Dustin Johnson fell from 12/1 to 100/1 following an opening 76 while Masters champ Patrick Reed shot a 4-over 75 to plummet from 30/1 to 200/1. Trailing by five shots following an opening-round 71, Tiger Woods' odds remained unchanged at 25/1 as he seeks a 15th career major title.

    Here's a look at the revised betting odds heading into the second round at Carnoustie:

    10/1: Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm

    12/1: Tony Finau

    14/1: Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler

    20/1: Francesco Molinari

    25/1: Tiger Woods, Alex Noren, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Kisner

    30/1: Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka

    40/1: Ryan Moore, Jason Day

    50/1: Erik Van Rooyen, Brandon Stone, Matt Kuchar

    60/1: Danny Willett, Thomas Pieters, Marc Leishman, Thorbjorn Olesen, Russell Henley, Matthew Southgate

    80/1: Webb Simpson, Adam Scott, Patrick Cantlay, Brendan Steele, Kevin Na

    100/1: Dustin Johnson, Zander Lombard, Sung Kang, Paul Casey, Louis Oosthuizen, Xander Schauffele, Chris Wood, Pat Perez, Luke List, Charley Hoffman

    Getty Images

    Despite 78, Lincicome savors PGA Tour experience

    By Randall MellJuly 19, 2018, 9:41 pm

    Two bad holes derailed Brittany Lincicome in her historic start Thursday at the Barbasol Championship, but they couldn’t wipe the smile off her face afterward.

    It might have been the most fun she ever had shooting a 78.

    Lincicome joined Babe Zaharias, Shirley Spork, Annika Sorenstam, Suzy Whaley and Michelle Wie as the only women to tee it up in a PGA Tour event when she striped her opening tee shot down the middle Thursday at Keene Trace Golf Club in Nicholasville, Ky.

    A double bogey at her ninth hole and a triple at her 16th might have spoiled her chances at joining Zaharias as the only women to make a 36-hole cut in a PGA Tour event, but it didn’t spoil her experience.

    “I did what I wanted to do, with having fun,” Lincicome said. “I think I nailed that part pretty well.

    “I love playing with the guys. It's so much fun, being inside the ropes with them. Hopefully, I can get a good one tomorrow.”

    Lincicome, 32, held her own for 16 holes, playing them in 1 over par, but those two big numbers left her tied for last place when she signed her scorecard, though other players remained on the course.

    At 6 over, Lincicome is 13 shots behind the leader, probably seven or eight shots off the projected cut line, but she savored the experience. She arrived wanting to inspire young girls to dream big, and to bring some extra attention to a title sponsor who means so much to her. She represents Pure Silk, part of the Barbasol family.

    Sam Ryder, who joined Conrad Shindler playing alongside Lincicome, was impressed with the way Lincicome carried herself.

    “I would play with her every day if she wanted to,” said Ryder, who opened with a 68. “She's just a great person.



    “Even though I know she's probably a little disappointed with her final score, she had a smile on her face all day.”

    Lincicome, an eight-time LPGA winner, made her first birdie at her 12th hole, dropping a 30-foot putt, but she wasn’t happy with her putter much of the day. She missed three other good birdie chances, a 4-footer at her eighth hole, an 8-footer at her 10th and a 12-footer at the last.

    “Pretty happy with my game overall,” Lincicome said. “I had two bad holes, but I drove it well. I did all the things I said I needed to do, but my putter let me down today.”

    After piping her first drive, Lincicome opened with three consecutive pars.

    “I was actually calmer than I thought I was going to be,” she said. “I thought I was going to be a nervous wreck. After the first tee shot, I was pretty happy that I found the fairway.”

    Lincicome said Ryder and Shindler made her feel welcome. So did the crowds.

    “It was great,” she said. “I could feel the energy of the crowd support me. Every time I hit a good driver or good shot, they would cheer for me, which was great.

    “Conrad and Sam were so nice. I couldn't have asked for a better pairing. They were very welcoming, and we were interacting, they were asking me questions, and it was great.”

    On Tuesday, Lincicome said a key to her play would be hitting fairways. She did that, hitting 10 of 14, but she was taking in longer clubs than she does in LPGA events, with Keene Trace set up at 7,168 yards. That’s 600 yards longer than she played last week at the LPGA’s Marathon Classic, where she finished second. She hit just 8 greens in regulation in this PGA Tour start.

    Lincicome is nicknamed “Bam Bam.” She is one of the LPGA’s longest drivers, but she was typically 30 to 40 yards behind Ryder and Shindler after hitting her driver. She averaged 259 yards per drive, Ryder 289 yards.

    “She had a couple birdie putts that she could have made,” Ryder said. “If she made a couple of those, might've been a little bit different, just to get a little bit of momentum. Who knows?”

    Lincicome’s biggest challenges were the par 3s.

    At the 18th, playing 195 yards, she mis-hit her tee shot, knocking it in the water, short of the green. She took a penalty, moved up to a forward tee, dropped and hit into a right greenside bunker. She got up and down from there for a 5.

    At the seventh, playing 198 yards, she missed wild right and deep. From a tough spot in the rough, she left her pitch short of the green. She chipped her third past the hole and to the fringe, where she took three putts from 20 feet.

    Afterward, Lincicome wasn’t dwelling on the bad shots. She was focused on going to sign autographs for all the fans waiting for her, including all the little girls who came out to see her.

    “I need to go back over there and sign,” she said. “Any time I can influence a child, especially a girl, obviously I want to get them involved with the LPGA, as much as possible.”

    Her overall assessment of her day?

    “It was a great experience,” she said.

    Getty Images

    Watch: Full replays of The Open coverage

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 8:55 pm

    NBC Sports and Golf Channel are showcasing nearly 50 hours of live coverage of the 147th Open. Missed anything? Well, you can catch up right here. Click on the links below for replays from Carnoustie, broken down into daily segments:

    Thursday, Day 1 (Times ET)

    Noon-4PM (Watch): Tiger Woods was up and down in the afternoon, as winds picked up a little and no one could catch Kevin Kisner. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Woods, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama.

    1:30-8:25AM (Watch): Defending champion Jordan Spieth got off to a good start, while Kevin Kisner (66) set the early pace. Click here or on the image below to watch. Also, click here to watch the full replay of the early marquee group: Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Chris Wood.