I know what most of you are thinking, Chicago Golf Guy we watched all 6 hours of the US Open yesterday on TV, and watched earlier in the day when ESPN had a smaller coverage, and prior to that we were watching Live from the US Open from the Golf Channel. Good. Because that’s basically what I did all day yesterday, plus add into that little mix my nifty iPhone with the USGA app, checking scores the entire time I played golf yesterday (I know I live a difficult life). So who needs a recap…lets not call this a recap, but our reflection on day one.
The 2012 US Open has proved so far to be the difficult test we all know and love (maybe not the guys playing but us folks out in TV land sure to like the struggles). The Olympic Club is playing very difficult, with the total scoring average playing at 74.92, almost five shots over par. The toughest holes? The 1st and the 16th. The 520 yard par 4 first has got to be one of the toughest and scariest first tee shots that these guys ever get to see. It played 4.58 scoring average on day one, and that was down wind, with the tees slightly up. The monster par 5 16th is not only a bear an and a half, no one even came close to sniffing that green in two. Well Bubba Watson did, but even his magical pink driver couldn’t get within 60 yards of that green in two. Since when does a par 5 play over par (5.56) for the touring professionals? Give the pros the longest par five on the planet right now, and you got yourself a true three shot hole, even for the biggest and best hitters in the game.
The USGA did give up two birdie holes on day one. The short par four 7th playing at around 280 yielded a few shots back to the players with a scoring average of 3.84. The short par 5 17th also played under par on round one with a scoring average of 4.76. But in all reality that is a par four with a par five label on it, so I like to call it a pity par five for the pros so no one complains about the brutish 670 yard previous hole.
There were some surprises on day one, as well as some struggling fantasy players (such as myself) when the final totals came in from day one. The man on top of the leader board after day one? Micheal Thompson with an astounding 66 in this opening round of one of the most if not the most difficult US Open course any one can remember. Mr. Thompson completed his round of 66 with only 8 greens in regulation, but managed the feat of holing basically everything and finishing with only 22 putts (I at times have had 22 putts on the front nine, and this is on US Open greens). Thompson is not completely out of left field, he was the US Am runner up when it was played at this very same course. Local knowledge and the fact that he has already done some damage at this course before, sets the stage for a magical first round (which is the third lowest recorded score for US Open rounds at Olympic).
We know who succeeded around Olympic, but who faltered? Our reigning champ Rory McIlroy carded a 77 yesterday +7 over par, and really never got anything going. He missed more greens on day one of the 2012 US Open than he did in four rounds at Congressional. Looks like your record is of the last guy to win consecutive US Opens is still safe Mr. Strange. Luke Donald finished the day just one shot shy of 80 with a a +9 over par round for the world #1. Lee Westwood world #3, was the low man in that group with a very solid 73 +3 over. He was +2 after the first three, and played very solid golf from there on out. Especially with Rory and Luke hacking around all over the place, and he is not a big fan of Rory anyways (lets just get that out there), and Lee didn’t really make any big putts. If the leaders fall back towards par (which is inevitable) and he manages a -1 or -2 on day two, Lee could be right in contention.
The biggest story of the day belongs to Mr. Tiger Woods. Coming off a win a memorial and swinging better than he has in five years Tiger jumps off with his first under par US Open round since the year 2000. Tiger in his own words said he played great, and was very happy by how he played on day one. Not to mention he shot one under par while watching the two best lefties in the game (Phil and Bubba) both shot 76 and 78 respectively. Tiger hit the ball well, and really navigated the course extremely well. His putter was getting hot as well. If Tiger Woods plays three more days, like he did on day one, it is going to be tough for anyone else to bag a winner. Will Tiger Woods win his first major in 5 years, with a Nike putter? Who knows, and it is a little early to call, but right now he is the favorite. That is unless Mr. Thompson decides that he is going to continue to have 22 putts a round, then he will be the man to beat.