U.S. Open's first two days have been eventful
Hi, Dr. Slice here. After a Rocky-inspired training meal that included a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, a soft pretzel, an Italian ice and some German butter cake, it’s time to clean the crumbs off my computer and distribute noteworthy awards from the first and second rounds of the 113th U.S. Open.
• No-sleep, no-sweat: Phil Mickelson easily wins this award for his double cross-country journey from Philadelphia to southern California and back to Philly. Mickelson’s plane landed here at 4:15 a.m. Thursday. He arrived at the club at 5:35. He began play from the 11th tee at 7:11. Oh yes – he also took the first-round lead with a 3-under-par 67.
• The rescue-me award: Mickelson’s caddie, Jim Mackay, gave his player some intelligent advice with two holes remaining in the opening round. After Mickelson said he was about to “hit the wall,” Mackay advised him to disassociate his thoughts from golf. Mickelson finished birdie-par.
• The professional preparation award: “I didn’t need any course prep,” Mickelson said. “I knew how it was going to play with all four different winds. I knew what clubs I was going to hit off each tee. All that stuff already was decided.”
• The switch-off-your-mind award: “He (Mickelson) is putting awesome,” said Keegan Bradley. “He made a couple of ridiculous up and downs. He’s had a crazy last 24 hours. Sometimes that helps, not thinking about it.”
• Pain free is not me: This award goes to Tiger Woods, who continually was shaking his left arm continually during the first round. What was he feeling? “Pain,” he answered.
• The water-be-gone award: Matt Shaffer, the golf course superintendent at Merion Golf Club, must be a magician in his spare time. His golf course was flush with heavy rainfall, and he seemed to make it go away. “It was pretty impressive how dry it was,” said Scott Stallings, “considering how much rain they had. It was pretty incredible.”
• The sideways green award: No modern architect would dare build a green like the 5th at Merion. He would be tarred and feathered. The green has more sideways slope that any other green in major championship golf. It is a three-putt waiting to happen. Four-putt, anyone?
• The short drive award: Justin Hicks hit a tree off the 4th tee in the first round and ended up with what might be the shortest drive in the history of measured drives on the PGA Tour. The drive went 112 yards. Combined with his 293-yard drive on the 6th, Hicks averaged 202.5 yards. That left him 109 yards behind the average of Josh Teater.
• They’ve got issues, I’ve got issues: The psychology-based award goes to Jim Furyk, who spoke vaguely and played golf in much the same way. “Logistically this golf course is going to cause some issues,” Furyk said. “The golf course is posing a lot of issues right now.”
• The wicker-be-gone award: After his ball ricocheted off a wicker basket atop the pin on the 12th green, Lee Westwood uttered a typically witty comment. “Peter Dawson (chief executive of the R & A) has reassured me that for the Open Championship we’ll be going back to flags like a normal tournament,” Westwood said. In other words, stick that wicker.
• Definitely not singing in the rain: When asked what he did during rain delays at the U.S. Open, former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel answered, “Sit and play games on my iPhone.”
• The back-to-school award: Irish amateur Kevin Phelan on his appearance in the 2011 U.S. Open: “I learned more in that week than the rest of my golfing career combined.”
• More respect please: “I think that anybody in that (television) commentary box has never given this golf course enough respect,” said Ian Poulter. “It’s brutal . . . the long holes are severely long . . . no one is going to get around this golf course without making mistakes . . . you have to manage them really, really well to put yourself on the board with a good score.”
• Dreaming of 62: “I never knew where you guys got those 62 numbers (predictions of a new single-round scoring record) and all that stuff,” said George Coetzee. “The rough is brutal, the fairways are hard (difficult).”
• Big 3-wood, no driver: Mickelson did not carry a driver in the first round, relying on his Callaway X Hot 3Deep 3-wood off the tee. How far does he hit this 3-wood? According to Mickelson, the answer is “20 yards shorter” than his driver. On the 2013 PGA Tour, Mickelson is averaging 291.1 in driving distance. Using this number, he would get about 271 yards out of his 3-wood.
• The I-hit-6-drivers award: “I actually think this course plays more like a 7,400- or 7,500-yard golf course,” said Rickie Fowler, who hit driver on 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 18. “You’re not able to get much more than maybe 7-iron out of the first cut off the fairway, and then once you get out a little deeper, then you’ve got wedge in your hand.”