Planet Golf — 20 June 2015 by Jim Street
U.S. Open Notes: Versatile No. 9 a hit

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wa. – The most unusual setup for one hole in U.S. Open history is proving to be a huge success, but not so much on the hole that will end each round on Saturday and Sunday.

Players like the ninth hole, but not the 18th, one of two holes being played as a par 5 one round and par 4 the next.

On Thursday, the par-3 203-yard 9th played slightly uphill. There were 86 pars, 16 birdies, 53 bogeys and 1 “other”.

On Friday, the same hole played 237 yards with the green some 100 yards lower than the tee. There were 81 pars, 14 birdies, 45 bogeys, 6 double-bogeys and 1 “other”.

“I love that hole from up top, especially that pin today because it’s gettable,” exclaimed reigning Masters champion Jordan Spieth. “It’s so weird to have two completely different holes that you play. Of course, I love it today because I played it well.”

Spieth birdied the hole to finish his second round with a 3-under 67 and move into a tie for first place with Patrick Reed at 5-under.

As if playing the hole wasn’t enough to get your attention, Spieth was in a threesome with Jason Day, who collapsed and needed medical attention before finishing the round.

“That was one of the better birdies I’ve ever made, given all the situation,” Spieth said.

Count Spieth among the versatile hole’s biggest boosters.

“I like that shot, just because it’s a beautiful view,” Spieth added. “The ball stays in the air forever and you have to judge the wind alternatives differently than you would on a flat lie. It’s either going to help it more or hurt it more. Today it was hurting it more than normal.”

The hole has gone from pre-tourney quirky to in-tourney cute.

Somewhere up there is a tee on No. 9

Somewhere up there is a tee on No. 9

“It was definitely a different look, for sure,” J.B. Holmes said. “You go from pretty much flat to taking 40 yards off a club. So it was into the wind, it was a tough hole. So it was a tough hole for me to tee, but it’s different.”

Ever played a hole like this before?

“Not in a tournament. Not to have that big a drastic change. It’s like a different hole.”

Some players were not as pleased with No. 18, which played as a 617-yard par 5 on Thursday and 514-yard par 4 on Friday.

“I think 18 as a par-4 doesn’t make much sense,” Spieth said. “Of course at the moment when I didn’t hit the right shots it’s going to make less sense. And whatever, if microphones are going to pick up, they’re going to pick it up.

“I’m not going to put a smile on and be happy with the way I played the hole. So I am who I am. I think the hole doesn’t make sense because you can hit it down the left center of the fairway and still end up in the right bunker in trouble. There’s a group of about 10, 12 guys that can fly at 310 yards that have an entirely different hole to play there.

” For anybody else you have to hit it in a 5- or 6-yard area. And if it’s going to be a par-4 and you’re going to bring that other bunker into play, I think the tee should have been moved up more. But I’m not the one that’s putting the course together.”

“(No.) 18 is just a tough hole to play as a par-4,” long-hitting J.B. Holmes said. It’s a tough one.” He ended Friday’s round with a par on the hole, finalizing a 4-under 66.

There were fewer complaints about No. 1, which also is playing to the unique par 5/par 4 setup on alternating rounds.

CHAMBERS TAMES TIGER: It was two and out for Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open, who had zero chance to add a 15th Grand Slam championship to his record.

The out-of-sorts former best golfer in the world followed a horrendous 10-over 80 on Thursday with a 6-over 76 on Friday to miss the cut by 12 shots.

“I wanted to shoot 5 or 6 today,” he said. “But I wanted to be on the other side of it. I hit a little bit better today, but I made nothing. I didn’t make any putts the first two days. I made nothing.”

Tiger Woods says goodbye to the U.S. Open

Tiger Woods says goodbye to the U.S. Open

And he made nothing, as in money.

Now what? Where does he go from here?

“Home,” he quipped. “I will just continue practicing, continue working on it. Hopefully, it will get a little better. Obviously, I need to get a little better for the British Open and I’ll keep at it.”

OVER AND OUT: After shooting an even par 70 on Thursday to put himself in good shape to play all four rounds of the Open in his hometown, University Place resident Michael Putnam soared to a 77 on Friday to miss the 36-hole cut.

“Yeah, it sucks. I played well yesterday and expected to play well today and get out there today and basically goose egg it. And then when you do that at a U.S. Open, they are going to expose your weaknesses and what’s going on. It sucks, but it is what it is.”

Putnam was thrilled to be a big part of the first major championship ever played in the Pacific Northwest.

“It was cool,” he said. “It was awesome. I watched coverage this morning, looked pretty cool on TV. I will probably watch some coverage this weekend. But, yeah, a lot of family, friends, people I don’t know out here enjoying themselves and watching some tough golf.”

If there was one change he could make to the all-fescue course it would be on the greens – he would use Poa.

“Poa is perfect around here,” he said. “There is nothing wrong with Poa.”

NO MORE FOR MOORE: The game plan for Ryan Moore coming into the first U.S. Open ever held in his backyard was to play all four rounds.

But the Puyallup product missed the cut, shooting a 9-over 149.

“It’s obviously great to have it here,” he said, “but I’m disappointed with how I played. I would be lying if I said I felt great coming into this week. I tried getting out there, getting a lot of time on the golf course, getting comfortable with it.

“This course does not set up all that well for me. I hit the ball really low and it is firm and fast, but with all the large slopes in front of the greens, it kind of makes you take it in a little more aerial than a lot of the links courses. That point I’m flying it to, it’s bouncing and going way past the hole. If I fly it short, it kills it and runs off the green. It was tough for me. In the end just didn’t hit good enough golf shots.”

DO I OR DON’T I?: During Thursday’s opening round, Ian Poulter hit a ball into the high, wispy fescue on No. 8. As he approached the area where he thought the ball landed, he asked one of the marshals to help find his ball. Zach Johnson, who was playing in the same group, told the marshal not to help, which put her in a quandary. Fortunately, the ball was found and play continued without further incident. Johnson should have known that part of the marshal’s duty is to help find errant shots.

NOTES: Matt Every withdrew because of a stomach illness. Every, who played 10 holes of his second round, withdrew on the tee of the second hole. . .There were 16 amateurs who qualified for the U.S. Open and six of them made the cut. The top gun going into Saturday’s third round is Brian Campbell, who followed a 3-under 67 on Thursday with a 2-over 72 and is tied for 12th. Cole Hammer, the 15-year-old from Dallas, was last among the amateurs, but he beat Tiger. . .There are 290 buses being used to transport spectators from the most distant parking sites. . .Sarcastic remark of the day came from amateur Beau Hossler, who shot a 2-over 72 on Friday. It was pointed out afterwards that he had hit the most greens in regulation. “Wow, that’s really encouraging to shoot over par with that.” . . .Luis Oosthuizen, who played with Tiger Woods (16-over) and Rickie Fowler (14-over) the first two rounds, avoided similar rotten play, shooting a solid 4-under 66 to reach 3-under for the tournament and make the cut.

 

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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