Wow, what a week! The U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club looked like it might turn into a farce at the start of the week, with the record-high rainfall and potential wash-out on Thursday, but in the end, everything worked out and the USGA and course walked away as the biggest winners. In fact, I might go as far to say that it was the best one I’ve seen in the past five years — four of which I covered and one that I spectated.
Despite a bogey on the monstrous par-4, 521-yard 18th, Phil Mickelson, who has come up just short five times at the U.S. Open, shot a solid even-par 70, one-under total, on Saturday at Merion, giving him a one-shot edge over Hunter Mahan, Charl Schwartzel and Steve Stricker. Sunday’s final round is not only Father’s Day, but it’s also Phil’s 43rd birthday.
Phil, who is campaigning for Father-of-the-year, flew across the country in his private jet twice earlier this week to attend his daughter’s eighth-grade graduation. The return flight was a redeye from San Diego to Philadelphia just a few hours before he teed off on Thursday.
Sergio Garcia was preparing to tee off the 11th, his first hole in the third round of the U.S. Open, when a spectator hollered, “fried chicken” as he was about to hit. <cringe> As expected, Sergio has received grief from vociferous Philly fans at Merion this week, and when security asked if he wanted the hecklers tossed out, he’s declined.
But that might be the least of Garcia’s troubles. (continue reading…)
62? No way. Let’s be real: That was never going to happen. Those who suggested 62 was a possibility clearly have never played Merion, or don’t realize the USGA always figures out a way to protect par. This was never going to turn into Congressional, Part Deux. Merion is in a different class.
Turned out to 67 would be the low score at the halfway mark at the U.S. Open — one posted by Phil Mickelson on Thursday and the other by Billy Horschel on Friday, who both happen to share the 36-hole lead at one-under. And while 62 didn’t happen, perhaps an even more impressive feat was achieved: hitting 18 greens in regulation. (continue reading…)
It wasn’t pretty, nor was it easy — it’s the U.S. Open, after all — but despite an elbow injury, which was originally thought to be his wrist, Tiger Woods dug deep to shoot an even par 70, three-over 36-hole total, trailing clubhouse leader Billy Horschel by four strokes.
In Thursday’s rain-delayed first round, Tiger looked like he injured himself after hitting a shot in Merion’s extremely penal and thick rough. Turns out it’s been nagging him since last month’s Players Championship, which Woods won for the second time in his career. (You know, that same tournament where he was paired with Sergio Garcia that reignited all the drama.) (continue reading…)
Mother Nature cut Merion a bit of a break. Considering predictions for doomsday storms on Thursday, the two weather delays — which wiped out most of the morning — were mild. No doubt it was wet, muddy and slushy, but the entire first round of the U.S. Open wasn’t a washout as the forecast called for the night before.
The morning wave finished easily, with father-of-the-year Phil Mickelson shooting a solid three-under 67 to take the early clubhouse lead.
Heading into Merion, Sergio Garcia was naturally a bit nervous for the reception from the notoriously vociferous Philly crowd, but he knew he had to deal with the consequences of his “fried chicken” comment. The U.S. Open is always the most mentally grueling test in golf without distractions. If he had shot 80, it would have been no surprise and even understandable.
Garcia encountered the predicted troubles, but not per se by the occasional heckler — the spectators were tamer than kittens, relatively speaking. On his first tee, the 11th — no, that’s not a typo; it’s a logistical thing — there was a lone “boo.” (continue reading…)
Man, you gotta love Champions Dinner photos. These get-togethers seem to produce instant classics. Like this one from a few years ago. The picture above is almost as good — only because of John Daly’s presence in the former — with Tiger Woods playfully picking on his “little bro” Rory McIlroy. (So humanizing!) But what’s really funny is the look on Webb Simpson’s face!
I had an eventful day trekking back to NYC to hang out with Michelle Beadle on her show, Crossover. The drive from Philly isn’t bad — unless you make the one wrong turn that you can’t make, but all is still fine at that point since of course you’d leave extra time for traffic.
And then, you get to a toll booth and reach for your wallet only to realize that it’s nowhere to be found. That’s when things get complicated. (Yes, I’m a moron and I’ve never done that in my life. Ever.) But hey, I like to keep life interesting and it’s a perfect excuse for being frazzled and unprepared for the chat in the video above. (continue reading…)
The weather is winning so far at the 113th edition of the U.S. Open, but that has been the theme all year on the PGA Tour. The first round at Merion Golf Club was halted at 8:36am ET due to thunderstorms, strong winds, heavy rain and possibly hail.
The storied golf course has already endured six inches of rain in the past week, which has led to soft conditions (and the recipe for mud balls this weekend).