The above screencap looks innoccuous enough. Heck, it’s just all-American hero Phil Mickelson staring at the crotch of a man standing in the middle distance. No biggie, right?
Phil looked ready to end a career of US Open heartbreak, but the leaderboard was crowded with big names desperate to spoil his Father’s Day party. Relive the final round with our blow-by-blow account.
Without wanting to rekindle debate on the hot rules controversy of two months ago (Tiger + illegal drop = mediapocalypse), it’s worth freezing a HD camera in the direction of this column by AP sportswriter Jim Litke.
Finally. Someone said it.
Former Masters champ Zach Johnson made the most of his post-round media obligations yesterday evening by taking the USGA to task for transforming Merion from a nuanced test of golf into a predictably gruelling, one-note US Open layout.
As a funky little layout with a handful of quaint ideosyncrasies, Merion was never going to go quietly into the US Open wilderness. The first round was heavy on YouTube-ready weirdness, a great deal of it blighting the efforts of one Lee John Westwood.
I’ll save my critique of USGA setups for a little later in the week — I know, the suspense! — but suffice at this point to say, Merion is fulfilling its brief admirably. Mike Davis and his cult of par-worshippers couldn’t have asked for more. Bogeys are far more plentiful than birdies; players are beginning to eye shots with that slightly haunted, nervous look; and with every hour the course stays dry, scores tick steadily skywards. There will be no 62s this week.
Mission accomplished, you might think. But the consensus among media types and players alike is that Merion may well struggle to host another major championship. [Ed. note: Though the word in the member’s pavilion is that the USGA is *begging* the club to return and in fact has already asked.]
All eyes were on Tiger Woods for this morning’s conclusion of the rain-interrupted first round. The world No1 looked to be nursing a wrist injury — possibly sustained as early as the first hole — as yesterday’s action drew to a close, but refused to be drawn on the subject overnight, opting instead to issue a charateristically terse dismissal of the subject through USGA channels.
With Merion having weathered somewhere in the region of 6.5 inches of rain over the last week or so, “mud balls” — balls that have accumulated what scientiests refer to as “a splodge” of mud on landing, leaving their stewards with all sorts of tricky arithmetic and guesswork to conduct — could play a big part in determining the tournament’s outcome.
But how do they work, exactly? And is it possible to turn the silty stuff to your advantage? Golf Digest’s Mike Strachura went in search of answers and turned up an interesting blog post.
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.
For the gamblers out there — which is probably just about everyone if you’re a golfer — below are various odds to win and head-to-head match-ups from @GolfOdds. Guess what?! Tiger is still the favorite!
Additionally, I’ve included other odds and ends, which are kind of fun, like if there will be a hole-in-one and will Tiger make the cut? (And many, many more, like the winning margin and low rounds.)