If you wished you could have watched the first round of the U.S. Open at Oakmont, don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything. With the heavy showers that fell Wednesday night and into Thursday, the course was soggy and soppy and completely different from the treacherous Oakmont — considered the most difficult of all U.S. Open venues, which says more than enough — that the players experienced in their practice rounds.
Some were critical of the USGA’s decision to not allow the players to warm-up again on the driving range and practice putting green (OK, that’s a little extreme) after a weather delay that lasted 79 minutes on Thursday. (I mean, look, I get it, golfers are very OCD, and even a few years ago, the idea of NOT hitting balls before a casual round almost gave me a panic attack, but I’m sure the USGA was just trying to get in as many holes as possible.)
“It was very hard with the wind being into us on a lot of the holes, as well,” said defending champion Jordan Spieth, who was one of the players that was unhappy as you can see above. “We made that turn, 17 through No. 3, the end of our round there, that’s definitely a challenge. It’s a challenge not being able to warm up too, going out there and trying to hit tee shots at the U.S. Open, but it is what it is.
“Hopefully, we’ll get some good conditions in the morning, and those other guys have to play 36 holes in a row at a U.S. Open, which isn’t easy.”
Nope, it’s likely that the afternoon wave in the first round will indeed play 36 holes one of the following three days.
Masters champion Danny Willett was also not too thrilled about the situation.
“That was a bad one,” he said. ‘We sat in a cabin for an hour and 10 minutes behind the 7th tee without being given a chance to hit any balls or do anything. You’re in a U.S. Open, they don’t give you a chance to even hit a few balls.
“Even the second time out, 1:47, and we were told to go back out again at 2:10. Never hitting any balls. You can appreciate they’re trying to get as many holes in as possible, but sometimes you just have to call it a day and come back.”
With over two inches of rain falling between Wednesday and Thursday, Oakmont’s fast, firm and slippery conditions are now just the opposite.
“It’s completely different golf course than we played in the practice round. I mean, night and day,” said Spieth, who is one-over through 11.
Matt Fitzpatrick is even-par through 13 holes.
“Massively (re: change between the golf course after the rain),” said Fitzpatrick, who one of the popular dark horses for the week. “The ball is spinning back a lot. The first few days you’re looking for it to spin.
“Completely different golf course. The ball was (not spinning on or staying on) the greens, but it’s still a really good test. You’ve got to hit a really good shot. Every shot is different. There’s no bail-out”
Bubba Watson is near the top of the leaderboard at two-under through 14. His scorecard is a bit of a mixed bag, with about half bogeys and half birdies.
“Around here in ’07, I finished 9-over and finished fifth,” said Watson. “When you’ve got 1 over, I’ve got eight more bogeys I can make and still finish fifth. When you look at it from that perspective, I had a par 5 coming up after No. 3 when I bogeyed, and I birdied. I bogeyed the other hole, and I birdied three in a row.
“So I just kept fighting. You don’t really think about the mistakes or the bogeys because you’re going to have — everybody’s going to make bogeys out here. The golf course is that difficult.”
19-year-old amateur Scottie Scheffler is currently the clubhouse leader, posting a solid one-under 69 to kick off his U.S. Open campaign. The former U.S. Junior champion and rising senior at University of Texas is only one of nine players to have finished the first round, but posting a score under par isn’t too shabby.
“The experience is — I can’t even describe it right now, but I didn’t really let the magnitude of what’s going on kind of get to me,” said Scheffler, who turns 20 next week. “Once we got on the course, I was fine, but I’m glad we got here a little early this week to kind of get used to everything because this is something I’ve never experienced before.
“But just kind of getting in here through the week, there’s a lot more stuff going on than what I’m used to at an amateur tournament. We’ve got courtesy cards and security and a bunch of people around. The people don’t really bother me. It’s just the other stuff that kind of goes on. It’s doesn’t bother me, it’s just something I’m not used to, like how we’re going to get to the course tomorrow is going to a struggle because we’ve got to dodge thousands of fans. That’s something I’ve got to figure out when I’m done here.”
His sister Callie took a week off her internship to caddie for her brother.
“It’s very important to me,” he said. I’m glad she was able to get the week off to come help me out. She’s a week into an internship, and she’s already asking for a week off. Hopefully she doesn’t get in trouble.
“The comfort level is a huge and she’s caddied for me in a couple of pro events before. We both kind of knew the drill. Definitely the preparation between those events and coming into this one, it really helped — another rain delay. But it kind of helped get everything settled in.”
[Just a random aside: Scottie is the nicest kid ever — he qualified in the Columbus sectional. I mean, I guess the bar is set pretty low for when I decided I like players or what have you. It is kind of sad, actually.
I was on the range on Monday (I think) with some of my media pals and one of them pointed him out and I looked over from across the range and Scottie saw me and he waved! I said to my friend, oh, who cares if you don’t like the quote he gave you, what a nice guy!!!
Just the simplest form human decency will make the media be like, OMG, WHAT A GREAT GUY. Still, though. He seems like he really is and hope he stays that way! Would love to him and his sister make the cut.]
Some important information:
*A total of 1.1 inches of rain fell overnight and 1.2 inches during the daylight hours on Thursday.
After three suspensions, play in Round 1 was suspended for the day at 4:25 p.m.
Resumption of Round 1 will begin at 7:30 a.m. on Friday. Only nine players completed Round 1.
The second wave of starting times did not begin on Thursday and those times will commence at 8 a.m. Friday.
The first wave of Round 2 will begin on Friday at approximately 1:45 p.m. and the second wave will begin at approximately 7:15 p.m. (sunset is 8:55 p.m. and twilight is 9:10 p.m.)
Round 2 resumes at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday and finishes at approximately 1:10 p.m.
On Saturday, Round 3 begins at approximately 1:45 p.m. in groups of three off the first and 10th tees
On Friday, FS1 will broadcast from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fox will broadcast from 5-9 p.m.