Jun
18
2016
Friday at the U.S. Open: LONG Day
By Stephanie Wei under US Open

Wow, I’m honestly a bit confused or just disoriented as to what the heck is happening out there at Oakmont because of the weather delays that messed up the rest of the week. So, the players in Thursday’s morning wave finished their first rounds on Friday morning — only nine players completed 18 holes on Thursday — and then had the rest of the day off. Then, the guys originally in Thursday’s afternoon wave played the first round and then most of them finished the second round, as well.

Yep, 36 holes at Oakmont in a U.S. Open — sounds about as fun as digging ditches all day. I’m serious. I know they’re playing professional golf for a lot of money, but hey, you’d have to pay me that much to do what they did today. However, those guys actually got the better end of the draw, believe it or not.

“This sucks,” said Ryan Moore, who was obviously drained. “It is terrible to not only play 36 holes, but have to do it on the hardest golf course on the planet – with deep rough., This was not very enjoyable, but I would rather do this than (play) on and off yesterday and sit today.”

Look, some of you will think he’s whining, but he’s not — he’s being completely honest. Sure, he’s a pro golfer making millions, but that doesn’t mean he can’t voice his opinion on the tough parts of his job. (We all have problems and we’re allowed to feel exhausted and voice our opinions, right? Right? Yeah, they’re first world problems, and most these guys are aware they’re very lucky, but every job has its downsides.)

Not only did the players who teed off early yesterday have to deal with the annoying stop-and-go routine of three rain delays (and not getting to warm-up at the range before one of them with varying conditions throughout their round, but they have to play 36 holes (or roughly) in much firmer, tougher conditions Saturday. That’s just a pain in the butt and potentially screws up your rhythm if you’re playing well (and on the other side of that, it can also be a blessing if you’re imploding). In general, 36 holes at Oakmont with a U.S. Open setup sounds about as fun as getting dozens of paper cuts or sticking a pencil in my eye.

Oakmont is also sneaky hilly and not easy to play or walk. I mean, the other day when Luke Kerr-Dineen and I did that little stroll, which lasted about 30-35 minutes, and then before we went live, we were walking around for maybe 10 minutes, I was absolutely spent. I came back to the media center and thought, damn, I’m spent, that’s pathetic. But then on Wednesday, I took another stroll and noticed how spread out and how many elevation changes there were if you saw the sprawling property from the clubhouse. The heat and humidity don’t make things easier, either.

I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I was pretty tired just from walking about a par-5 from the media center to the driving range and then standing in the heat watching Rory McIlroy grind away. (People couldn’t stop yelling at me for not holding the phone more still, but you know, my arm got tired! I have shaky hands, too!) I’m also obviously really out of shape and need to get my act together, but in general, it’s really not an easy walk and you can’t tell on TV. Plus, the grind of the mind-f*ck of the U.S. Open is absolutely mentally draining, so I’m pretty sure those players are sleeping quite well tonight.

Look, the U.S. Open is about the mental grind, too. It makes players absolutely nuts. It’s not only a test of skill, it’s a test of mental fortitude. I think Spencer Levin’s reaction to his second shot on the par-4 7th hole says it all. For some background info, he played really well on his first nine of the second round, posting three-under (teed off no. 10), but then it started to unravel, with four bogeys in five holes. Yikes. So, knowing Spence, he was about to throw a tantrum, anyway, and when his shot came up like 25 yards short, he just lost it.

It was kind of epic and I had to laugh because it was kind of legendary and you have to know Spence to realize he wasn’t trying to be a punk or what have you. He’s just a little fiery, but he’s great. His caddie wasn’t thrilled with it, though. I texted him that I loved Spence’s tantrum (somewhat facetiously with lots of exclamation marks) and he just wrote back, “I didn’t.” Yeah, I could definitely see why he wouldn’t. If it were anyone else, I’d be like, oh crap, I shouldn’t have said that, but whatever, Turcott doesn’t care or take it personally like that. By the way, Spence shot two-over 72 and 5-over total, so he should cruise in to make the cut, especially since Saturday is expected to play MUCH harder than Friday.

You know what would suck — to have ONE hole left and have to come back to play that ONE hole at 7am. Which means you’re waking up at like 4:30am probably. Ugh. Jim Furyk must be absolutely pumped. Oh yeah, his caddie Fluff deserves massive props for making it through today. I don’t know if I would have and I’m at least half his age (I think, but I’ve also been told he looks much older than he is? It doesn’t matter — I worry that he’s going to just collapse one day.) Oh, and Angel Cabrera must be even more thrilled with returning in the morning for ONE hole. At least those two will make the cut — well, Furyk, for sure, and unless Angel makes, like, an 8, on his last hole, the beastly par-4 9th, which is ranked the hardest this week.

I felt like there was still enough daylight to play for another 10 minutes when the horn blew. I’m not sure what the deal was or if the players who were almost done knew what was happening because I have a feeling if some of them did, they would have had one guy run to the 9th tee and hit his drive so that the group could finish. But hey, maybe they were too tired to run and they also wanted to wait to play no. 9 when they were fresh? Who knows. I guess I can ask them tomorrow, but I don’t plan on getting to the course at 7am, to be honest. Sorry!


 

Back to Rory McIlroy, who opened with a seven-over 77 (ouch). Everything is about timing and I happened to head over to the range shortly before McIlroy came over. I used Facebook Live for the first time and saw Jordan Spieth hitting balls for a little bit. (Which I had to do because I found it kind of funny since that’s where the whole Periscope fiasco kind of started!) He looked intense, but he always does, so it wasn’t really anything that new. OK, he was more distressed and focused than usual, but it’s a major.

Next, I wandered over to check out Bryson DeChambeau (+1, 71), but I was quickly bored because he kept looking at the data from the Flight Scope on a computer after each shot. I swear he spent more time checking out the data than actually hitting balls. No joke. Then, suddenly, McIlroy showed up on the range and he was carrying his own bag — which, like, never happens. Ever. Well, rarely, at least. He was accompanied by his swing coach Michael Bannon. Right away, it was obvious that McIlroy was not too happy and looked miserable.

I honestly have never seen Rory look so lost on the range (or maybe anywhere?), especially in the middle of a tournament. I mean, it almost felt like he was trying to learn how to play golf again. Well, sometimes that’s what you do when you are lost, you go back to the basics. It was actually quite intriguing to watch Rory work with Bannon. That’s the only reason why I stood there for over 30 minutes showing it on Periscope (yeah, I switched from Facebook Live because no one follows me on there, which might need to change!!!). I don’t really believe in just showing a guy hitting balls, but this was different because of how much instruction was happening.

Everyone seemed just as fascinated as me with McIlroy’s swing lesson. One thing it appeared like he was working on was his swing path. I only know that because I recognize the drill and the move that he and Bannon were making because I’m all too familiar with it. If I’m right, it means McIlroy was coming too inside and he was trying to get his path back on the right plane.

Again, I can’t remember a time where I’ve seen Rory look so defeated (and yeah, that’s saying something) and work as much as he was with his coach for as long as they did. I wish I would’ve stayed for the entire range session so I could’ve tried to talk with Rory, but honestly, he really didn’t look like he was in the mood to chat and that is also saying something — because on just about any other occasion, I think he would talk.

I was probably smart to steer clear, but still, I’m still absolutely floored by the entire vibe and how hard he was grinding and how much active instruction Bannon was giving him. Usually, I see him just watching Rory hit some balls and every once in a while, he’ll stop and work on something, but not the way he was Friday afternoon! This was new level stuff.

I can’t embed Periscope videos, but here’s the link.


 

Here’s something exciting: I did my first podcast and it was actually kind of impromptu, so I’ll need to work on some things, but hey, it is what it is, right? It was tough to get a guest because of the long and late day and everyone obviously has work to do and then wants to bail ASAP, but I finally found the one person who I could say it was definitely an obligation, like Shane Ryan did with me last year — my work hubby Teddy Greenstein. Thanks, Teddy! And everyone else, you suck! I will remember this! Mwahaha. No, I’m kidding and I don’t really care, I get it. I just wish I were staying in a house again like we usually do, so I could make everyone participate a la Shane last year at Chambers — best group of people in a house ever.

By the way, does anyone know an app that I can record podcasts on like AudioBoom, but will allow me to record for longer than 10 minutes? Please share.

I’ve also been trying to come up with a name and there are WEI too many options, but I haven’t come up with the right one. It’s sort of like when I wanted to start this blog up and I wouldn’t do it until I had the absolute RIGHT NAME. Then when I heard it, I said, THAT’S IT! But really, suggestions are welcome.


 

Finally, if you’re not doing so already, follow me on SnapChat! (User name: stephwei) I’m definitely the most active there even though I can’t show any thing that’s on the golf course during competition days, but still, it’s fun. I’d also love suggestions as to what else you’d like to see (again, that isn’t on the course — wish I could have Snapped more pictures of holes, etc.). Oh man, fingers crossed that other organizations will follow suit and implement regulations like the USGA has! They sort of have to, right? Otherwise, they look out-of-touch and stodgy and all the other negative adjectives that come along with golf!