And we’re off, the 115th U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, the first open championship ever in the Northwest. This is golferswest.com’s ‘Inner Twitter’ as staffers Bob Sherwin, Jim Street, Kirby Arnold and Candace Oehler provide updates and side notes on the first day of play (you can also follow twitter, Jim Street@golferswest_2 and @kirbyarnold) :
6:53 pm Thursday: Rickie Fowler, Louis Oosthuisen and Tiger Woods are a plus-26 with four holes remaining. Is plus-30 possible? — BS
6:07 pm Thursday: Three birdies in a row for Spieth. Just two behind at -3. – BS
4:54 pm Thursday: Tiger, Spieth, Rose, Fowler, Moore are all at or past the turn. None of them is under par – BS
4:35 pm Thursday: Greg Norman is analyzing Tiger Woods’ swing on TV, saying something about his left elbow getting too far away from his body because he’s too afraid to hit the ball left, along with some other technical stuff. Here’s my translation: Tiger is going to keep sucking until he finally reaches “F—- it mode” and starts swinging without a million thoughts in his head. — KA
4:25 pm Thursday: I’ve gotten a lot of texts and emails from friends around the country who ask, “Why is that course in such terrible condition?” My response is that this isn’t your standard US Open with narrow fairways, lush thick rough and tiny greens. This is a layout pretty much the way the USGA wants it — dry and firm where the conditions force golfers to play the humps and bumps. Chambers Bay actually was pretty green and lush a month ago, but the dry Northwest weather the past month has allowed the USGA (whether they admit it or not) to let the course play exactly how they want it. If they wanted it greener and slower, they’d have poured more water to it. The greens do look terrible, but they’re firm and seem to roll true (although they seem bumpier this afternoon).
My favorite greens to putt are in Arizona in late September/early October when the courses prepare to close for overseed. They turn off the water, let the greens get bone dry and mow them down to nearly nothing. They’ll roll true and lightning fast, like putting on the hood of your car. To me, it’s a blast to play them. — KA
4:20 pm Thursday: I would like to thank Tiger Woods for reminding me how I played last time I was at Chambers Bay. #beliketiger — KA
4:14 p.m. Thursday: It is becoming pure agony to watch Tiger Woods play golf. He is all over the place in his afternoon round, playing and looking like a rookie. He’s 4-over after six holes and shows no sign of getting hot — or even warm. JS
2:50 pm Thursday: Ryan Moore, the former U.S. Amateur champion who grew up in nearby Puyallup, was among the third last group to tee off.
2:28 pm Thursday: Another heavyweight group followed, Tiger Woods, Louie Oosthuizen and Rickie Fowler – BS
2:17 pm Thursday: Golf heavyweights Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Justin Rose go off No. 1 to start their rounds. – BS
2 pm Thursday: Thoughts halfway through the first round:
1:58 p.m. Thursday: I’d waited weeks for FOX’s ground breaking coverage of this tournament, and what I got was a bogey-bogey-bogey performance from the network that promised an innovative approach and edgy commentary. In the first hour, announcers were soft and at times inaccurate (it’s Pu-jet Sound, not Pu-GIT Sound, and it’s Cole Hammer not Cole Hammel) and on-course experts tripped over their words. I was all set to see some drama on No. 12 when Rory McIlroy flared his drive right, into the tall grass that left him with a terrible lie (according to on-course analyst Juli Inkster). We never saw Rory again until he was missing his par putt. Never saw what apparently was a nice recovery from that horrid lie. The FOX experts also told us how creative Phil Mickelson can be with his wedges, which can play well on this course, but showed no examples of what constitutes creative play. And finally, for a golf course whose main feature is humps, bumps and elevation changes, the high camera shots did little to show viewers just how severe the slopes are at Chambers Bay.
Early this week when I considered my favorites to win the tournament, Bubba Watson was high on my list. He has the creativity to do well on a course like this. But Chambers Bay tests a golfer’s mental strength as much as his skill, and I didn’t think Bubba would hold up well to adversity. By No. 18, his composure was wobbling. — Kirby Arnold
1:54 pm Thursday: Patrick Reed rolls in a 6-footer for a birdie on No. 9 and finishes -4, one behind the leaders.
1:36 pm Thursday: Dustin Johnson has finished at 5-under 65, one shot shy of the Open’s first round record. So much for Chambers degree of difficulty. — BS
1:29 pm Thursday: Jason Dufner, who at one point was 2-over, has recovered is 2-under as he heads to 17. — BS
12:45 pm Thursday: Bubba, not having a good day and has shown at times that he’s not really a good person, just bitched about his approach on 18. “Wait 30 minutes for a shot like that. That’s not good professional golf.” He’s not going to be glowing. Some folks might call it karma. – BS
12:41 pm Thursday: Henrik Stenson has moved up. He’s -3 after 15 holes. That’s two behind Dustin. — BS
12:22 pm Thursday: FOX1 got it wrong. Putnam birdied No. 18 and finished at even par. The network showed that he pared it. – BS
12:17 pm Thursday: Dustin on a roll, -5 and a two-shot lead. He’s through 14. – BS
12:12 pm Thursday: Michael Putnam, the local kid who opened the tournament with a 7 am tee shot, becamse the first to finish, at 1-over 71. – BS
Noon Thursday: Dustin has taken over the lead at -4; Chappell has dropped to -2. – BS
11:58 am Thursday: The Gribble has returned. Cody Gribble, who began the day as the only player under player among the first 45 players on the course, faded to over par. But with two holes remaining, he is -2, one behind the leaders. – BS
11:51 am Thursday: Chappell bogeys then birdies – sinking a 25-footer – to stay in a tie for the lead at 03 with Reed, Kuchar and Dustin. – BS
11:38 am Thursday: Chappell has moved into a tied for first (Reed bogeyed No. 1 to drop back to -3). Chappell has some local ties. He married a Washington woman and has a house in Lake Chelan in Central Washington. – BS
11:04 a.m. Thursday: We have a new leader and it’s Patrick Reed, who just birdied No. 17. JS
10:50 am Thursday: BTW, there are six par-4s here with distances beyond 500 yards.
10:49 am Thursday: Patrick Reed has tie Mickelson at -3 – BS
10:46 am Thursday: The first ‘unknown” since Cody Gribble’s first hour on the course has entered the top of the leaderboard. Kevin Chappell birdied No. 10 and is now -2, one behind Mickelson. — BS
10:16 a.m. Thursday –Duffers everywhere must have said “been there, done that” when Bubba Watson flubbed a sand shot on No. 10. The ball slithered off no more than two feet from where it started — a stunning development. Bubba changed clubs and made it out of the bunker on his third shot, no doubt red-faced.- JS
9:42 am Thursday: How’s this for a Big Four: Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott? They are all tied for the lead at -2. Rory is one behind. The cream is rising.
8:24 am Thursday: Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson have joined Gribble as the only three under par (-1) – BS
7:58 am Thursday: 58 minutes into the tournament and there is one, ONE, birdie. A guy named Cody Gribble birdied No. 1. Of the 29 players who have completed at least one hole, 14 are over par, 14 are even. – BS
7 am Thursday: Michael Putnam, who grew up in this area, went to U-Dub and has a home here, had the honor of hitting the first tee competitive tee shot. He yanked it into the rough on the adjoining 18th fairway and took a bogey. The first of many bogeys this course will command – Bob Sherwin