Tougher conditions at U.S. Open as early wave heads out

Tougher conditions at U.S. Open as early wave heads out

The scoreboard was covered in red numbers and there were more eagles in the first round than in any single U.S. Open round over the past 50 years.

"This is just a very small step towards outcome", Rose said after his round.

He parred all holes on the back nine. The good news? Nobody this time around has picked apart the greens, the rough or the tees. And that's actually a compliment considering how the USGA has laid out its courses, particularly over the last few years. "Another couple of rounds in the 60s and I'll take my chances", said a bullish McIlroy.

Known for his iron prowess throughout his career, and especially at the best times of his comeback in the past two years from back surgery, Woods has been uncharacteristically off at Pebble Beach.

Players are happy with the ballpark, fans are happy with the names in contention and everyone is happy with the oceanside visuals.

Sounds pretty simple, right?

"It's not something that you're proud of", said Woodland. And Dustin Johnson remains in the mix at -2.

The US Golf Association, which faced withering criticism over conditions bordering on uplayable on the wind-dried greens at Shinnecock Hills previous year, kept Pebble Beach generously watered during the hot, sunny practice days.

Another former Scottish Open victor, Rickie Fowler, sits a shot behind Rose along with fellow Americans Xander Schauffele and Aaron Wise, as well as South African Louis Oosthuizen. That's 10 more than had ever previously broken par during any Open round played at Pebble Beach.

Missing are the birdies, which is why Woods is nine shots behind in his bid to join Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson as the only four-time winners of the U.S. Open.

That's 2 strokes ahead of second-place Justin Rose, while Louis Oosthuizen (6-under), Aaron Wise (5-under) and Rory McIlroy (5-under) remain within 4 shots of the lead. If I'm patient, I'll get better as the week goes on. Because you're playing near the ocean, you have to respect Mother Nature.

"But you get used to it".

And that's a problem - a big one. "So if they get the greens anywhere like that, it will be a hell of a test".

Meanwhile, Australian former world No.1 Scott survived bogeys on the first two holes to post a 69 and a three-under score. Ryan Moore, once an amateur champion in multiple USGA events, called the 17th in 2010 "completely unreasonable, just a frightful golf hole the way they set it up".

Woods began the day five off the pace but picked up what would be his only birdie at his second hole before stringing together 14 pars and closing out with back-to-back bogeys.

Mickelson, who turns 49 on Sunday, says he believes he's still in the hunt with 54 holes to play, though.

With a win, Koepka can become the seventh golfer in history to win three U.S. Opens.

How much do the individual players earn?

"Our philosophy has not changed", he said the other day. Will the field continue to take advantage of the ideal scoring conditions? We were a little indecisive what we were going to do.

But they shouldn't lose their minds, either, and bury their credibility for good at sea.

The notorious wind off the Pacific coast was little more than a breeze. They should keep the pins reasonable, let Pebble be Pebble and, in the end, let the players play.

Here's hoping the USGA doesn't wreck all of them.

"A lot of great storylines this weekend", McDowell said.

Related Articles