Thursday notes from the U.S. Open
I'm not sure if anyone has ever commuted as far as Phil Mickelson did for his day at work on Thursday. Lefty flew through the night from California to Philadelphia after attending his daughter's graduation. He landed at 3:30am, got an hour's sleep then headed to the golf course where he put together a very impressive three-under round, which is the clubhouse lead.
Strange? Nothing seems to be that crazy when you're talking about Phil, who says he makes the red eye trip a half-dozen times a year for outings.
But this is the U.S. Open and Phil never seems to do anything typical here.
Oh, did I mention that his bag this week has five wedges in it and no driver?
Mike Weir admitted that he looked up and saw his name on the leaderboard on Thursday.
"Of course I did," he said with a chuckle. "It's been a while since it's been up there."
The lefthander was cruising along nicely through the difficult parts of Merion Golf Club before stumbling with four consecutive bogeys over his closing holes. Only a birdie at the last left him feeling good about his day.
"They say it's a game of inches," Weir stated. "Well those holes could have been birdies – one hole I flew it a yard too long and another a yard short."
What was odd about Weir's round was the club that's been giving him the most trouble – the driver – was solid. He hit it six times and every one of them was in the fairway. Weir only missed two fairways on the day (although the stats show it being just one). Conversely, the strength of his game – his wedges and putter – were the weak link in Round 1. If he can sharpen those up, he should be able to post a good score.
Just Like Home
One of the many quirks about the set up of this tournament is that the players locker room and dining areas are set up at the driving range, which is located at the West Course at Merion, about a 15-minute shuttle ride from the first tee. There's a massive tent set up in the backyard of a home neighbouring the course and parts of the home are being used as well. The strange thing is that the family living in that house hasn't moved out.
Weir said he was sitting in a room in the home set up for dining, watching SportsCenter on ESPN before his morning round on Thursday when one of the kids who lives at the home walked in, sat down and changed the channel.
"He was eating breakfast and just came in and changed it to Golf Channel," said Weir.
According to Weir, the kid seemed oblivious to what was going on and didn't ask for autographs or even talk to the players.
With the exception of just a few loudmouths, Sergio Garcia walked around yesterday without hearing any negative comments. In fact, they were probably more positive than anything. One drunk was thrown out early in the round and later in the day, three more over-served guys were given the boot. Garcia had enough troubles to worry about, hitting two balls out of bounds on consecutive holes and posting a six and an eight back-to-back.
Mackenzie Hughes was able to have a little fun during his first round at the U.S. Open but he admitted that Merion was easily the hardest golf course he'd ever played. Hughes posted a very respectable five-over-par score. The Dundas, Ont.-native was also sporting a new logo on his shirt during the first round. The Score television network came up with a last-minute sponsorship, apparently after learning of the young golfer's tight financial situation.
Calgary's Ryan Yip admitted that he was fooled by the speed of the greens in the early going, saying they were much faster than they'd been in the practice rounds. And, after getting off to a slow start, he tried to force matters.
"I tried to get aggressive and learned pretty quickly that the U.S. Open is not the place to do that," he said, still smiling.
Yip said that for as bad as he hit it, his score of six-over was a bonus.