U.S. Open Blog

U.S. Open Blog

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U.S. Open Blog

Welcome to the U.S. Open Blog, where Golfweek’s reporters will deliver the latest inside news and happenings all week from Torrey Pines.
Editor's note: This is the archivedmaterial from the 2008 U.S. Open.
Bad news: I drew the short straw amongst the Golfweek staff and flew back to Florida from California Monday morning and didn’t see the U.S. Open playoff in person. Good news: Each seat on my flight had its own personal television and I was able to watch every shot of the playoff during the 5-hour jaunt.

Bad news: The audio on my viewing station didn’t work and I had to sit there in silence. Good news: A majority of the people on the plane were watching, which made me realize, even more, the power of Tiger Woods.

Bad news: I have covered 11 men’s major championships and still never have seen Tiger Woods win. He’s now 14-0 when holding at least a share of the lead heading into the final round, I’m 0-11 when it comes to watching him win one. Good news: I may not have been at Torrey Pines Monday but was about 20 feet away from Woods Saturday afternoon when he dropped the 60-foot birdie bomb on the 13th hole and was 30 feet away Sunday when he made birdie on the 72nd hole to force the playoff.

Will never forget the good news or bad news of the week.

– Jay A. Coffin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods' birdie at the 90th hole not only cost Rocco Mediate the U.S. Open trophy he worked so hard all week to land, it also cost him his spot on the couch next to Jay Leno on Monday night.

When the playoff headed into a playoff – are you following? – it meant Mediate would not be able to get onto a plane and get to L.A. in time to film "The Tonight Show."

The offer stood for Tuesday night, but don't know if he's going to accept or not.

Stay tuned.

– Jeff Babineau
Posted June 16

Rocco Mediate’s driving woes crept into his game at the wrong time. Mediate pulled his drive into a fairway bunker, and he pulled his 183-yard approach left into the stands. After a free drop, Mediate pitched to 20 feet.

Woods’ birdie try crept toward the hole, but he left it short of the middle of the cup by an inch. He fell to his knees and left the stage open for Mediate, who left his putt high and failed to convert par, giving Woods his 14th major and first U.S. Open title since 2002.

His Open title was his seventh at Torrey Pines, a record for wins on one course.

Thru 19:
Woods: E
Mediate: +1

– Ray McCarthy
Posted June 16

Tiger Woods converted his routine birdie to put pressure on Rocco Mediate to hole a 3 1/2-footer for par to extend the U.S. Open. Mediate coolly holed the putt, sending the two players to No. 7, a 461-yard par-4 that played as the seventh-hardest hole on the course for the week.

Woods will have the honor on the tee box.

This is the first U.S. Open playoff since Retief Goosen and Mark Brooks faced off at Southern Hills. Goosen won by two shots.

Thru 18:
Mediate: E
Woods: E

– Ray McCarthy
Posted June 16

Could you make a 3-footer on the 17th hole to stay one ahead of Tiger Woods with one hole to play? Rocco Mediate made a 3-footer for par on 17 to keep his lead over Woods and edge closer to becoming the oldest U.S. Open champion in history.

And here we are again, folks: Once again, Tiger Woods comes to the 18th hole needing a birdie to tie for the lead at the U.S. Open. Yesterday, he scrambled his way to a highlight-reel birdie to force a playoff.

What will he do this time?

Thru 17:
Mediate: E
Woods: +1

– Ray McCarthy
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods was one last roll away from another long birdie putt at the par-3 16th. We’re two holes away from Mediate completing his Cinderella story. This isn’t Jack Fleck over Ben Hogan, but it’s close.

If anything, it’s guaranteed to be interesting.

Thru 15:
Mediate E
Woods +1

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Eddie Merrins, pro emeritus at Bel-Air Country Club, has been working with Rocco Mediate, and was on hand this weekend to watch his student contend for the U.S. Open.

Merrins has seen this show before. He also teaches Bob May, who had to go to a playoff with Woods at the 2000 PGA Championship after Woods made a heroic putt on the final hole. May lost that playoff.

There could be a happy ending for Merrins and his student today. Mediate has a one-shot lead with three holes remaining.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Isn’t Tiger Woods supposed to be the one making those bending birdie putts? After a week that’s seen him make countless long ones, someone returned the favor.

Rocco Mediate’s 35-foot, right-to-left birdie putt on No. 15 looked like it might be low, but caught the left edge. Woods, who hit his approach shot from a fairway bunker on the adjoining ninth hole to 8 feet, missed his putt to fall one behind.

Thru 15:
Mediate E
Woods +1

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – For whatever reason, Tiger Woods cannot shake Rocco Mediate. After Mediate made birdie on No. 14 and Woods parred, the two are all square again.

Woods, who had won 13 of 13 majors when holding the 54-hole lead was two strokes ahead of Mediate entering Sunday. Woods was three shots ahead of Mediate through 10 holes today. I hope the rest of the PGA Tour is watching this broadcast. There’s something to be learned from today.

With his back problems over the past few years, maybe Mediate doesn’t fear Woods because he’s had to deal with something much scarier for a professional golfer – the prospect of not being able to play golf.

Thru 14:
Woods +1
Mediate +1

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – The par-5 13th is halved with birdies. Tiger’s still up one. Now the par-4 14th.

Rocco’s going for it. He did the same thing yesterday and made birdie out of the greenside bunker. Today he hit it in the neck of fairway just short of the green and should have an easy shot.

Woods has a wood out as well, looks like the 5-wood. Woods took a divot with his tee shot, hitting it into rough just short of the green.

Mediate hits his chip stone dead and taps in for birdie. Woods follows by missing his 7-foot birdie putt.

Thru 13:
Woods +1
Mediate +2

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Tiger Woods just reached the par-5 13th in two shots with an iron, while Rocco Mediate is in a greenside bunker. Off to a commercial break.

Time for another U.S. Open playoff fun fact. It doesn’t look like either player is going to break the record for lowest score in a U.S. Open playoff.

That belongs to Fuzzy Zoeller, who shot 67 in 1984 at Winged Foot to wax Greg Norman by eight shots.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Rocco Mediate just keeps fighting. The guy just hit a wood from 243 yards to 15 feet on the par-4 12th, while Woods missed the green well short from a fairway bunker. Mediate missed the birdie putt, but still made up a shot on Woods. That’s back-to-back bogeys for Woods.

“He’s not going to give up, ever,” Mediate’s caddie, Matthew Achatz, told me yesterday. “He just kept battling and battling.”

Thru 12:
Woods +2
Mediate +3

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – There’s still eight holes left, but this one really hurt Rocco Mediate’s chances.

Tiger Woods advanced his second shot on the par-4 10th less than 100 yards out of the rough and spun his third shot off the green, but holed his 15-foot par putt. Mediate, meanwhile, missed the green from the middle of the fairway and made bogey.

We’re in Southern California and the Lakers are in the NBA Finals, so to pay homage to late legendary announcer Chick Hearn, this game is getting in the refrigerator, the Jell-O is jiggling and the butter is starting to get hard.

Thru 10:
Woods: E
Mediate: +3

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Nine holes remain and the grandstands on No. 18 are already full. Considering what’s happened the past two days on the final hole, it may be worth the wait.

If you need a recap, Woods’ snuck in a 15-foot birdie putt Sunday to get into a playoff and holed a 30-footer for eagle on Saturday. Both elicited two of Woods’ classic reactions.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – We’re halfway through this knock-down, drag-out fight.

Are you loving the 18-hole playoff? Then it’s too bad you missed the 1931 version of this championship.

Billy Burke and George Von Elm tied at 149 after their first 36-hole playoff, so they went out for 36 more, with Burke nipping Von Elm by a shot, 148-149.

That’s 144 holes coming down to a single shot. Talk about a tough loss.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – That’s two consecutive holes that Tiger Woods has failed to hit the green with greenside bunker shots.

When’s the last time you saw that happen?

Woods still won the hole, getting up and down for par while Mediate 3-putted from 20 feet.

Thru 9:
Woods: E
Mediate: +2

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – We have our first grimace of the day after Woods hit his tee shot down the left side of the fairway. It’ll be interesting to watch how he handles it, but it hasn’t stopped him yet this week.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Well, Tiger Woods made bogey on No. 8 and this is a one-shot ballgame again.

Mediate’s hanging tough, but there’s a difference between staying close and taking a lead. I think if Mediate’s going to win this thing, he’s going to have to make a move soon.

Three par-5s remain (Nos. 9, 13 and 18), as well as the long par-4 12th.

I have to give Johnny Miller credit for his insight on the eighth. After Tiger Woods’ tee shot on No. 8, he said Woods would have a 50/50 shot of hitting the green from the back bunker. That sounded like an exaggeration.

Well, Woods’ bunker shot was hot and ran past the front hole location and, like Miller predicted, through the green.

Thru 8:
Woods: E
Mediate: +1

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Johnny Miller just provided his insight into the NBA Finals, saying that defense wins championships.

That’s usually true at the U.S. Open, too, where safe play and pars are rewarded. But Tiger Woods is going on offense right now.

After hitting his approach to 7 feet on No. 6 to make birdie, Woods hit it to 10 feet on the next hole for a second consecutive birdie. His two-shot lead is the biggest lead for either player today.

Thru 7:
Woods: -1
Mediate: +1

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Impressive up-and-down for Rocco Mediate on No. 6. This guy’s not going anywhere. He hit his approach just through the green on the converted par-5, then played his chip with about 15 feet of break to within 6 feet.

The par putt kept Mediate within one stroke of Woods after he made a 7-foot birdie putt.

Thru 6:
Woods: E
Mediate: +1

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – I’ll tide you over during the commercial break with a U.S. Open playoff fun fact.

The first 18-hole playoff took place in 1901 between Willie Anderson and Alex Smith. It was a nail-biter, with Anderson pulling out the 85-86 victory.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

The playoff is progressing at a decent pace. The first fives holes were covered in about an hour.

Here’s a preview of what to expect as far as course setup for the rest of the round. The U.S. Golf Association’s decision to widely vary the tee placements this week was popular with players.

• No. 6: Tee markers were moved forward 14 paces on the par-4 to make the hole play 501 yards. This is to accomodate a challenging left hole location.

• No. 13: The par-5 will be played from the most forward of the three teeing grounds used, making the hole play 539 yards and reachable in two shots.

• No. 14: The USGA will use the forward teeing ground for the second consecutive day. The hole location will be in the front center on this 269-yard par-4.

• No. 16: The par-3 will be played from its traditional tee, making it 225 yards.

• No. 18: The closing hole will play 525 yards and should be reachable in two if players can hit the fairway.

If the players are tied after 18 holes, the sudden-death playoff will take place on Nos. 7, 8 and 18.

The U.S. Golf Association said all aspects of the playoff set-up were decided before the first round, except for the tee on No. 14 because officials wanted to see how it played from the short tee in the final round.

Both players are 1 over par through six holes.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – It’s no secret that Tiger Woods is capable of launching the ball like no other. Even the blimp is in play. Woods waited for it to get out of his line of sight before hitting his tee shot on No. 5.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Fatigue will play a factor today. That would seemingly give the advantage to Woods.

“We’re running out of fumes,” Mediate said in an interview with ESPN.

He’s been strong so far. Maybe that coffee he was seen sipping during the interview is helping. Could an endorsement deal with Starbucks be in the works?

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – We’ve already seen enough great shots this week, and this one came close to topping them. Mediate’s tee shot on the par-3 third hole burned the edge and settled less than 1 foot away. If that would’ve gone in, and Mediate went on to win this thing, it would’ve arguably been the greatest ace of all time.

Woods made bogey on the hole from a plugged lie in the bunker. The two-shot swing gives Mediate a one-stroke lead through three holes.

Thru 3:
Mediate E
Woods +1

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Big putt for Mediate on the second hole. His 3-footer for par kept him within a shot of Woods, who had to make an 8-foot par putt of his own.

You don’t want to spot Woods two shots in two holes.

Thru 2:
Woods E
Mediate +1

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Rocco Mediate didn’t waste any time hitting the first tee shot for the playoff. Without taking a practice swing, Mediate hit a draw down the left side of the fairway. If he’s nervous, that shot didn’t show it.

The first tee shot is huge for Tiger, considering he’s played the first hole 5 over for the week. Tiger finally found a way to hit it this time, launching a high cut into the corner of the dogleg.

Game on.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Thirty minutes before the playoff and crowds are already lined up three deep down the first fairway. A sizeable gallery was already forming on the second hole as well.

Rocco took a page out Tiger’s book. He’s got his Monday red on, with a black vest and black pants. Tiger is wearing his typical final-day outfit (of course, one day later than usual).

“Who’s who?” one fan shouted before the first tee shot.

Reason No. 1,355 that the common man can relate to Rocco. Tiger had a bottle of the Gatorade bearing his name at his feet while he hit balls. Gatorade Rocco hasn’t come out yet, so Mediate went with a large iced coffee.

Golfweek.com will have live blogging throughout the day, so if you’re one of the unlucky souls who has to work, check back for updates.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – Win or lose in Monday's Open playoff, Rocco Mediate's star is sure to grow. On Monday night, he will appear on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. Needless to say, that will be a first.

Should be fun.

– Jeff Babineau
Posted June 16

SAN DIEGO – One of the most common complaints I hear while covering golf in the Tiger Era is that nobody ever stands up to the guy.

Well, at least now we have a guy who welcomes the challenge. Rocco Mediate isn't stupid; he knows the Other Guy is heavily favored tomorrow. But he's going to give it his best shot.

"Oh my God, I get to play for the National Open against the best player on earth, that maybe has ever played," said Mediate. "How much more could you ask for?"

Mediate was asked, How badly do you want to win?

"Fairly," he said with a smile. "It would be the story of MY life, I can tell you that."

– Jeff Babineau
Posted June 15

SAN DIEGO – No formal ceremony here.

It’s official. The contracts have been signed. Chambers Bay in Tacoma, Wash., will host the 2010 U.S. Amateur and 2015 U.S. Open.

Where were these contracts signed? In the hospitality room at the U.S. Open, as John Ladenburg, whose title is Pierce County executive, hurried to catch a plane back home.

– James Achenbach
Posted June 15

SAN DIEGO – It seems clear that Mike Davis, the USGA senior director of rules and competitions, knew all along that the 14th hole at Torrey Pines South would be set up as a reachable par 4 during the final round of the championship.

“It was in our minds,” Davis said. “We were intrigued with the idea.”

The “we” is Davis and Jim Hyler, who heads the USGA championship committee.

– James Achenbach
Posted June 15

SAN DIEGO – A few odd stats from the 108th U.S. Open:

• On the 18th hole, there have been six eagles and 139 birdies. That's fun. Had the USGA played it as, say, a 510-yard par 4, there would be six birdies and 139 pars. Fans clearly like the former over the latter.

• Hardest par-4 to hit in regulation? The 504-yard, par-4 12th, with only 25.6 percent of the players hitting the green in two.

• Phil "3-wood" Mickelson ranks 57th in driving distance (287.5 yards) and dead last among those who made the cut in driving accuracy (43 percent, or six fairways each day).

• San Diego native son Pat Perez has three birdies for the week – one each day.

• Finally, the biggest stat at the Open usually is greens in regulation. The leader in that category, Nick Watney, is tied for 70th. Watney ranks 80th in putting (34.33 putts per round). Hey, somebody ought to make up a saying about that …

– Jeff Babineau
Posted June 14

SAN DIEGO – OK, so you want some Tiger Woods' numbers? With a 54-hole lead at major championships, he is 13-0. And overall on the PGA Tour when he has led or shared the lead through three rounds, he is 43-3.

For all you trivia buffs, the three who took him down: Ed Fiori (1996 Quad City), Phil Mickelson (2000 Tour Championship), Retief Goosen (2004 Tour Championship).

Rocco Mediate, trailing by two, had some math of his own late Saturday evening.

"When he has a lead (at a major), he's never lost," he said. "So that means he's never lost. So chances are that could happen tomorrow. But you just never know, you know? It's not over yet.

"Nine out of 10 times, he's probably going to kick my butt, but it's that one time you're looking for."

– Jeff Babineau
Posted June 14

SAN DIEGO – An explosive afternoon was capped by Tiger Woods’ 40-foot eagle putt at the last to give the world No. 1 an ominous one-stroke lead going into Sunday’s final round.

The surreal scene became an even more bizarre happening when “Open Doctor” Rees Jones began high-fiving members of the media watching from the gallery ropes.

“That’s exactly what (U.S. Golf Association setup man) Mike Davis wanted to happen (at No. 18),” gushed Jones, the architect who whipped the South Course into championship shape. “Excitement.

Leave it to the USGA, an organization that clung to the game’s most ruthless setup philosophy in the past, to put the fun back into the Grand Slam.

– Rex Hoggard
Posted June 14

Playing in Saturday’s first group, Anthony Kim and Ryuji Imada both made birdie on No. 18 to shoot 1-under 70.

“There’s going to be quite a few more sub-par rounds out there with the pins where they are,” Kim said. “They did us a favor.”

Kim also said tees were moved up 30-40 yards on a handful of holes. The par-5 13th was not played from the new back tee, either, which makes the hole unreachable in two shots.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 14

SAN DIEGO – Was asking a Tour "insider" the other day – somebody who is out with the Tour week to week – to give me a hot "sleeper" pick going into the week.

He told me Miguel Angel Jimenez. Jimenez won the BMW Championship a few weeks ago in Europe, and was feeling and playing great. But once he got to Torrey Pines, Jimenez thought the golf course was just way too long for him.

What did Jimenez do Friday? He made six birdies and shot the low round of the tournament, a 5-under 66. And he vaulted all the way from a tie for 64th to a tie for fifth.

The Mechanic can really play …

– Jeff Babineau
Posted June 13

SAN DIEGO – D.J. Trahan must not believe in Golf Gods.

The confident 27-year-old shot 69 in the second round to share the clubhouse lead with Davis Love III, then wasted little time saying he is not fond of Torrey Pines and that the U.S. Open was not the major championship he cherishes most.

“The golf course doesn’t suit me very well and I don’t care for it much,” Trahan said, mostly regarding the Buick setup each January. “I was looking forward to coming out here and seeing it in a completely different state. I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit more.”

And he likes the Masters more than the U.S. Open.

“There’s just something about the Masters that holds a little bit more of a special place in my heart,” he said, clarifying that his Southern roots is the reason why he loves Augusta National. “But this one certainly ranks second.”

– Jay A. Coffin
Posted June 13

SAN DIEGO – Vijay Singh is known as the most fastidious wedge player on the PGA Tour. To take advantage of fresh grooves, he switches wedges every few tournaments. Going into any major championship, he always brings along new wedges.

However, Singh had never carried a 64-degree wedge. Until now.

Cleveland Golf, famous for its wedges, received a request from Singh prior to last week's Stanford St. Jude Championship: “I want a 64-degree wedge.”

Singh was just warming up for the U.S. Open. Sure enough, he carried a Cleveland 64-degree wedge into battle here. Furthermore, 10 other U.S. Open players used ultra-lofted wedges.

Is this an emerging trend? Definitely.

– James Achenbach
Posted June 13

SAN DIEGO – Here's somebody from the "sleeper" section to keep an eye on at the 108th U.S. Open: Robert Karlsson.

Karlsson shot 1-under 70 in the opening round at Torrey Pines, and tees off at 1:14 local time at Torrey Pines alongside dimunitive scrappers Craig Parry and Tim Clark.

Karlsson quietly has been making a nice run to make Nick Faldo's European Ryder Cup team. Few have noticed, but he's been on one of the most torrid streaks of any player in the world. His last four European Tour starts have all yielded top-3 finishes: Italian Open (3), Irish Open (T-3), BMW PGA Championship (T-3) and Celtic Manor Wales Open (2).

Before that run? He tied for eighth at the Masters. So he knows a little about performing on a big stage.

The biggest hurdle: The last European to win a U.S. Open was Tony Jacklin, in 1970.

Three months later, in Sweden, Robert Karlsson turned 1.

– Jeff Babineau
Posted June 13

SAN DIEGO – Phil Mickelson is the coolest.

After he walked onto the first tee for the opening round of the U.S. Open, spectators were yelling and screaming his name as if he were part of a Roman chariot race instead of a golf tournament.

On the other hand, playing partners Tiger Woods and Adam Scott received polite applause.

As Mickelson stood beside the public address system — used to announce the players — the crowd started chanting, “Speech, speech.”

Mickelson reached for the microphone and silently moved his mouth. It was all in fun. The crowd roared.

– James Achenbach
Posted June 13

SAN DIEGO – Before he was the fist-pumping, wide-eyed prince of this Pacific princess, Kevin Streelman was all muni like scruffy greens and pull carts. Streelman, who climbed his way atop the U.S. Open leaderboard thanks to a solid-putting round of 68, grew up playing every Chicagoland municipal track that would have him.

All of which might explain Streelman’s track record at Torrey Pines. Before Thursday’s 3-under card the Duke grad rocketed to a 29th-place finish earlier this season at the Buick Invitational which included a third-round pairing with Tiger Woods.

“I was right out of school (in 2002) and was playing the Gateway Tour and getting my butt kicked so a buddy was working (at Torrey Pines) and invited me out,” Streelman said. “I got here, it was 75 degrees and beautiful. We’d sneak around here all afternoon it was great.”

– Rex Hoggard
Posted June 12

SAN DIEGO – The big news of the first day at the U.S. Open was the same at the finish as it was at the start: Tiger Woods’ knee.

People wondered how he’d perform after missing two months because of April 15 left knee surgery. The answer was fine, outside of two double bogeys, including on the first hole.

But the most compelling news came when Woods grimaced in pain while holding the finish on a 360-yard drive down the middle on the 18th hole. Anguish on his face, he limped off the apparent pain and pulled his cap down over his face as he processed the pain.

After the round, Woods sidestepped most questions about his knee and about the pain he felt on the 18th tee. “It didn’t feel very good,” he said, referring to his knee on the final drive. “The pain was a little different. But you just tee it up and go.

And so the focus on Round 2 will be the same as on Day 1: On the Woods-Phil Mickelson pairing and the most famous knee in golf.

– Jeff Rude
Posted June 12

SAN DIEGO – The defending U.S. Open champion, Angel Cabrera, quit smoking last fall. But after his first nine here – 8-over-par 43 – it wouldn’t be surprising if he lit up at the turn.

Or started Unhappy Hour with a strong liquid refreshment.

– Jeff Rude
Posted June 12

SAN DIEGO – Talk about no respect. Andrew Svoboda could qualify as the U.S. Open’s ultimate Rodney Dangerfield.

The New York native got the call Thursday morning that he needed to be on the first tee by 1:47 for a Round 1 date with bombers J.B. Holmes and Bubba Watson. Brett Wetterich had to withdraw because of a wrist injury and Svoboda, who is a member at Winged Foot and played in the 2006 Open there, was the first alternate.

Most of the afternoon people called him Wetterich because that’s what the pairing sheet had listed. Few noticed his name on the standard bearer. Those that did notice attempted to pronounce his name, but to no avail.

Here were some of the doozies: Svobodia, Svobodona, Svobodness. Then there is my personal favorite, Svobodorich, which I can only assume is a mixture of Svoboda and Wetterich.

– Jay A. Coffin
Posted June 12

SAN DIEGO – Be leery when someone in a slumping player’s camp touts that player heading into a major championship.

For example:

The first day of the 1997 British Open at Troon, a respected journalist from Australia told me Ian Baker-Finch was “hitting the ball better than ever” and was going to have a big week and show everybody he’s out of that horrific slump.

Then I went out and watched the likeable IBF shoot 92.

The day before the 2003 PGA Championship at Oak Hill, the mental coach for David Duval said Double D was “over the hump” and playing great, never mind that he had just missed 10 cuts in his last 12 starts.

Then I went out and watched Duval shoot 80 in the first round and withdraw after a handful of awful holes in Round 2.

This week, someone close to defending champion Angel Cabrera, another mired in a slump, said the Argentine bomber had his head on straight, his mind where it needs to be.

Then Cabrera went out and made only two pars in shooting 43 on his first nine holes.

Next time the friend of an out-of-form pro brags about his man entering a major, I’ll smile and shake his hand. After making a big bet with him.

– Jeff Rude
Posted June 12

SAN DIEGO – Sights, sounds from Torrey Pines:

Amid the pre-circus hoopla, Joe Ogilvie took in the scene around the South’s first green and smiled: “Didn’t know (playing partner Mark Calcavecchia) was so big in San Diego.” The masses, of course, were assembled to cheer on the day’s next three-ball – world Nos. 1 (Tiger Woods), 2 (Phil Mickelson) and 3 (Adam Scott).

Fresh from her victory at the LPGA Championship, rookie Yani Tseng walked all 18 holes with the Woods-Mickelson group. Tseng, who tagged along with on-course reporter Dottie Pepper much of the day, said the pairing included her three favorite players. For kicks, we asked who is No. 4 on her list? “Um . . . Sergio,” she laughed.

Mickelson decided to play the longest golf course in U.S. Open history without a driver, which means for all reasonable purposes Woods played the first round on one (good) knee, Scott made the first loop with one (good) pinkie, and “Lefty” played Round 1 with one questionable decision.

– Rex Hoggard
Posted June 12

SAN DIEGO – At one point during the first round, “Sheehan” was on top of “Hearn” on the leaderboard.

Assuming that was Patty Sheehan, you had a Chick and a Hearn.

Inside NBA joke.

– Jeff Rude
Posted June 12

SAN DIEGO – How anonymous was Justin Hicks, the guy currently tied for the lead at the U.S. Open, before this week? If you Google “Justin Hicks,” the first result (hicksgolf.com) is the site of a Southern California teaching pro named Justin Hicks, not the touring pro from Florida who’s having a career day at the U.S. Open.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 12

SAN DIEGO – As Golfweek’s Bradley S. Klein predicted, Torrey Pines is proving to be scoreable. The South Course is proving to be scoreable early in the first round, with Robert Karlsson leading at 4 under through 10 holes. Steve Stricker teed off on 10 and shot 4-under 32 on the back nine before making a double bogey on No. 1.

Even Tiger Woods recovered from an opening double bogey to make birdies on Nos. 4, 8 and 9 and make the turn in 1 under.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 12

SAN DIEGO – The greens are rolling smooth and fast – 13 on the Stimpmeter. For players accustomed to speeds of 10.5-11 during the Buick Invitational, that requires adjustment. Tiger Woods, who doesn’t get enough credit for being a brilliant golf course analyst, said it best: “the lines are higher,” meaning that there will be more speed and more break than normal.

The USGA was hoping to present the same conditions of green speed and firmness all week, meaning Monday through Sunday. But the maintenance crew got a little carried away Sunday night with hand watering the putting surfaces. It was only a minor glitch, and each day the greens sped up and firmed up – to the point where by Wednesday, even well-struck middle irons rolled considerably on the greens.

– Bradley S. Klein
Posted June 11

SAN DIEGO – Caught up with Trevor Immelman, Tim Clark and Carl Pettersson late Wednesday during a practice round. The trio was on the 14th tee when a woman tapped yours truly on the shoulder, pointed to Pettersson and asked, “Is that John Daly?”

Ouch.

I assured her it was not and she softened the jab by saying, “I thought he looked a lot smaller than Daly.”

Yeah, a lot.

– Jay A. Coffin
Posted June 11

SAN DIEGO – On hand at the 108th U.S. Open Wednesday was Jack Fleck, who beat Ben Hogan to win the U.S. Open at Olympic Club 53 years ago. Fleck, 86, is still looking pretty spry, and his mind is sharp as a tack. He beat Hogan in a playoff at Olympic, which was one of the great upsets in Open history, kicking off a series of Opens at Olympic in which Billy Casper beat Arnold Palmer (1966), Scott Simpson beat Tom Watson (1987) and Lee Janzen came from behind to beat Payne Stewart (1998).

“Hogan was more or less my idol,” Fleck said. “In a way, how did I turn around and deprive him of his fifth (U.S.) Open? Some of the old-timers said, ‘He must hate your guts.’ But he was always very nice to me.”

How nice? When Hogan started making golf clubs, there were two players who played the Hogan brand: Hogan and Fleck. Fleck said other top players weren’t even allowed into the clubmaking side of the factory.

The Open returns to Olympic Club’s Lake Course in 2012; Fleck says he plans to go in early and help advise on the setup.

– Jeff Babineau
Posted June 11

SAN DIEGO – The U.S. Open includes three Wilsons, three Tways (two as caddies), two Chois, two Bryants, two Campbells, two Johnsons, two Ogilvies and only one Parry.

And that last one is misspelled.

– Jeff Rude
Posted June 11

SAN DIEGO – The USGA has made four of Torrey Pines’ fairways wider than they play at the Buick Invitational here. A kinder and gentler USGA?

Before you believe that, consider that the last two Open winners shot 5 over par and Phil Mickelson says there's no way anyone can go low this week.

– Jeff Rude
Posted June 11

SAN DIEGO – Boo Weekley thrilled the masses Wednesday afternoon, when he hit a dead shank off the fifth tee. The camouflaged one was playing with amateur Michael Quagliano when he reared back, took a mightly blow and hit the ball 25 yards.

There was a collective silence amongst Quagliano and the gallery, until everyone realized several seconds later that Boo was just. . . well, being Boo. Applause followed.

– Jay A. Coffin
Posted June 11

SAN DIEGO – Gary Wolstenholme, the 47-year-old English amateur, got his money’s worth. Wolstenholme was the first alternate into this U.S. Open, and flew to Torrey Pines with no guarantee that he’d be in the field. He earned a spot after Sean O’Hair withdrew because of a pulled chest muscle.

Wolstenholme was the first alternate out of the sectional qualifier in Walton Heath, England. The first alternate is now Andrew Svoboda, who qualified for the 2006 U.S. Open, followed by 17-year-old Julian Suri from Florida.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 11

SAN DIEGO – This year began with talk of Tiger Woods winning the Grand Slam. Now Trevor Immelman is the only man with a chance of pulling it off. Immelman has already claimed one U.S. Golf Association title at Torrey Pines – the 1998 U.S. Amateur Public Links.

“I don’t feel like there’s much of an advantage because the course has changed so much and it was 10 years ago,” Immelman said. “The thing that jumps out to me the most was in the semifinal I was tied after regulation play. And we had to play the first hole as a playoff. I hit my second shot through the back of the green and chipped in to win the match.

“…And then on Sunday for the final we had a long, probably two- or three-hour fog delay. We couldn’t tee off. And so I remember that as well.”

Immelman also appears to have recovered from his post-Masters hangover. He failed to break par in his four rounds immediately after Augusta, but finished T-30 at Memorial and lost a playoff last week at the Stanford St. Jude.

– Sean Martin
Posted June 10

SAN DIEGO – I look at Rickie Fowler’s swing with that fast tempo and see a young Lanny Wadkins. And I’m not sure I’ve seen anyone clear the left hip faster than, say, Tiger Woods circa 1990-something.

– Jeff Rude
Posted June 10

SAN DIEGO – Early talking points from the 108th American shindig. The annual TaylorMade soiree didn’t disappoint. A classical/hip-hop band electrified the crowd which included nearly the entire stable of TaylorMade players, including Sergio Garcia, Brandt Snedeker and Mathew Goggin.

Later in the evening, we spotted “Open Doctor” Rees Jones and asked about the condition of the South Course. Jones, who reworked the South prior to the U.S. Open, said officials over-watered the greens on Monday and the course was too soft, but added, “It’s better to make a mistake on Monday and not on Sunday.”

And finally, this nugget from Tuesday’s practice round tee times which listed a Thomas Weekley playing at 1:14 p.m. Thomas, of course, is Tour funnyman Boo Weekley, but no one has called him Thomas since the folks watched that episode of “Yogi Bear.”

– Rex Hoggard
Posted June 10

SAN DIEGO – Rolex stages an annual dinner during U.S. Open week honoring one of its longtime ambassadors, Arnold Palmer. The company has been doing it since 1978, and the tradition continued on Monday night with a terrific gathering at the posh Grand Del Mar resort, not too far as the crow flies from Torrey Pines.

One of the 30 AJGA players in attendance at the dinner asked Palmer at the end of the night for his pick at this week's Open.

There was a pause …

And then Palmer smiled and quipped, “I'm not playing in it.”

Later, he did give his pick: Tiger Woods. But he added that he is none too pleased these days with the defeatist attitude so many of Woods' peers seem to possess in the era of The Great One.

Palmer said he never would have bowed to anyone else in the field in his day.

“He may be the greatest golfer to ever walk the earth,” Palmer said. “But they need to make him work for it.”

– Jeff Babineau
Posted June 9

SAN DIEGO – Just arrived here in SoCal and quickly realized that they may have massaged Torrey Pines’ South into a hard and fast play park, but it’s clear Southern California will be nothing like Southern Hills, the steamy site of last year’s final major.

“June Gloom,” as they call the grayish haze that often hovers over this stretch of Pacific coast, had Sunday afternoon temperatures pegged at 70 degrees and a cool, moist breeze made it feel even cooler.

The U.S. Golf Association schlepped the national championship to the extreme southwest, and we get St. Andrews, Scotland. Cool stuff.

– Rex Hoggard
Posted June 9

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