The U.S. Open leaderboard after the first round at Oakmont was quite a surprise. Ogilvy, Sabbatini and Butch Harmon were among those predicting brutal scores. Yet Fred Funk is tied with Tiger Woods at 1-over, just three off the lead.
OAKMONT, Pa. - I feel like I'm watching a horror movie scene where it's taking just a little too long for the killer to jump out of the closet and slice Jennifer Love Hewitt's throat open.
"Go on!" Screams the blood-thirsty audience. "Get it over with already!"
"Plus 10 will win by five shots," said defending champ Geoff Ogilvy after seeing the course Monday.
"Shinnecock on steroids," said Rory Sabbatini.
I feel ripped off. Are 'these guys good,' simply drama queens, or filthy, rotten liars?
Or was it Oakmont that was lying all along?
Most players pointed to the sky, citing an hour-long Wednesday afternoon thundershower that dropped a half-inch of rain as being just enough to soften greens.
"The pins were in about the easiest spot in each section of the green," Tiger Woods said.
The committee also flinched at Phil Mickelson's whining about the rough being a "physical hazard." They cut it down to four inches before Thursday's round.
Swing coach Butch Harmon promised scores would be in the 90s Thursday and Friday. In last place is Mike Small at 86.
Shorter hitters weren't supposed to have a chance here. 51-year-old Fred Funk is tied with Woods at 1-over. He's three off the lead and barely missed a putt on 18 to stay even.
If Oakmont really was supposed to be as hard as everyone said, how can you justify a wounded Mickelson still standing after a horribly ugly 4-over and still in the thick of things. He missed nine fairways and 10 greens. Earlier in the week, he said he couldn't hit it in the rough to have a chance. After hitting out of it repeatedly today, he should have been on a stretcher by the back nine.
But he's not even out of it.
Perhaps the only thing the players were dead on about was Oakmont's par-3 8th playing more like a par 3.5. Today's stroke average was 3.504 and the tees were up to about 260 yards.
Are we seeing a kinder, gentler U.S. Open? One where they like to scare players, then give them a blankie? Or are they making the audience wait just a little longer for the big payoff?
Thursday evening, the field was predicting tomorrow is when the scores will rise to insane levels and the field will separate a little. Sabbatini still thinks a four-round score of 290 will win it.
Bubba Watson expects so.
"Every tournament you play in, no matter if it is the U.S. Open or in Memphis last week, the courses always get tougher as they go along, no matter what they say they are trying to do."
Come tomorrow I better see guys in tears, five-putts and scores in the 90s, or I'm not exiting the theater next time I hear "fire."
June 15, 2007
Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Channel Courses & Travel. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours.
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