Day 1 at the Open

A few thoughts on the first round of the U.S. Open.

You know how when the NCAA tournament rolls around and everybody jumps on the back of a potential sleeper to make the Final Four? Take Clemson, which stormed into the ACC tournament finals and gave UNC three tough games. Almost overnight, the Tigers became the trendy pick and everybody made way for the bandwagon.

That’s the feeling I get about Phil Mickelson this week. 

Again, I know he knows Torrey Pines like the back of his hand and I know he’s had success there and I know he’s contended deep into U.S. Opens before, with as many runner-up finishes as the Golden Bear.

But everybody seems to be picking him this week to win, and after his first eight holes, I felt like my trendy pick idea was holding to form. Lefty was 3 over through eight, couldn’t even keep a 3 wood in the fairway (he’s not carrying a driver this week) and was getting his doors blown off by a gimpy Tiger Woods, who was spraying it all over but scoring.

Then, all of a sudden, Lefty, despite the occasional hybrid out of the deep rough, started throwing darts, and finished his round in 3 under over his last 11 holes. He’s at even and right there after the first round.

But he had 33 putts on his round. That has to change.

As for Woods, a lot is going to be made about his wince after his drive as he closed his round, but while he wasn’t sharp — he hit just 6 of 14 fairways and only 11 of 18 greens — he rolled the rock well, finishing with just 29 putts. For an Open, that’s not bad. He scrambled beautifully around the greens, which shouldn’t be surprising because he probably got a lot of work in on his short game while rehabbing the knee.

Still, the wayward drives could catch up with him, and how long can he stare bogey after bogey in the face and get away with it? That said, if the two double bogeys were instead limited to bogeys, Woods would be 1 under and be the story of the first day.

Justin Hicks led during the afternoon after an early 68. Can he last as long as Jason Gore?

The top 10 leaves a little to be desired, doesn’t it?

Actually, check that now. Geoff Ogilvy, Ernie Els and Luke Donald join Stuart Appleby. Not bad.

Kevin Streelman? See “Hicks, Justin”.

Speaking of trendy picks, Sergio Garcia was a disaster. Six over through eight? Wow.

My sleeper pick? Pat Perez and his first-round 75. I think I’ll go lay down now.

Anybody else expect the golf course to get much harder by the weekend? The greens will be rolled for sure and won’t see a drop of water unless the Good Lord deems it necessary. I still think even could win.

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Filed under Designated Hitter, Golf, Sports, Sports columns, The Sanford Herald, U.S. Open

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