SAN FRANCISCO – Here’s a guess that Soren Kjeldsen won’t be inquiring about membership to The Olympic Club, nor any possibilities to purchase lots of land along the first six holes.
The toughest stretch of opening holes in major championship golf? Well, you wouldn’t get an argument from Kjeldsen. Not after he played Nos. 1-6 in a whopping 10-over par in Thursday’s opening round at the 112th U.S. Open.
Now they weren’t the opening holes for the Dane, for he had pushed off from the tee at the par-4 ninth. But when he left the 18th green he was only 3 over – which is not a score that will ever bury a player in this championship. Ah, but the first six holes? Those will burn championship hopes, should a player chop them up – and Kjeldsen did just that. Here’s how his scorecard read starting at the first: Triple, bogey, double, bogey, double, bogey.
Game, set, match, and you figure Kjeldsen was free to start changing his travel plans.
While Kjeldsen performed the worst over The Olympic Club’s first six holes, he had company. Andy Zhang, the 14-year-old qualifier who got in as an alternate, started his memorable experience in a forgettable way – triple, double – and walked off the sixth green 8 over.
Dennis Miller, the Ohio club pro, played those six holes in 7 over, as did 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell.
No surprise, given where they sit on the leaderboard, but four players went 1 under on that stretch – Tiger Woods (69), Graeme McDowell (69), Jason Bohn (69) and Jim Furyk (70). Nine others managed to play them in level par.
When the day was done, there had been only 40 birdies made at the first six holes, against 350 bogeys, 41 doubles, and six triples – all of which means that the field played that stretch in 410-over par.
At 4.583, the first hole – a converted par 5 – played most difficult, while the fifth and sixth were tied for third toughest. The third was fifth-most difficult and the second ranked sixth.
In other words, ouch, and perhaps you understand why at the first tee they hand you not only your scorecard and some tees, but also a first-aid kit.