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Friday, June 18, 2010

Welcome to Pebble Beach

So the first round of the U.S. Open is in the books. A handful of guys are still on the course, but only Hudson Swafford seems able to change things... so I guess it's safe to make some observations.

Pebble is playing tough. The leaders are at 2-under (that's 69, since Pebble's playing to par-71 this week) and, depending on Swafford, there are only 10 guys under par and another 4 at even. Most of the favorites are sitting between +1 and +4 (that's a HUGE group, around 70 players), and I don't think any of them are out of it yet. Play was kinda slow too.

Els is at +2, Woods and Westwood at +3, and Mickelson at +4. As Chris Berman pointed out several times, this is the first time neither Tiger nor Phil has had a birdie when playing the same round in a major (that may have been the same tournament). Tiger seems to have most of his swing problems straightened out, but his putter left him. (Maybe Elin won custody?)

Here's my assessment of my picks. I haven't done too bad so far!
  • Mickelson (+4): Wild as usual, but not unexpected. His putter and Tiger's apparently watched the first round together from the 19th hole.
  • Furyk (+1): Jim played his typical methodical round. -1 is well in contention, and 3 off the lead is about where I would expect a solid round to have been. First round leaders are rarely the second or third round leaders.
  • Choi (-1): K.J. is the reason I say the +4s are still in it. He went bogey-double to start his round, then made 6 birdies to get to -3 (the lowest anybody got Thursday) before finishing at -1. I said it Wednesday, I'll say it again: Ignore the Tank at your own risk.
  • Clark (+1): Tim made 2 birdies, 3 bogeys, no big mistakes. He's in a good position.
  • Johnson (+1): Zach made 4 birdies, 5 bogeys, no big mistakes. Also in a good position.
Others worth mentioning:
  • Ian Poulter (-1): I like Ian, but I have to admit that this round stunned me. I didn't expect him to play this well at a U.S. Open yet. 3 birdies, 2 bogeys, no big mistakes.
  • Ryo Ishikawa (-1): Another amazing round. Has anybody carded this kid? He didn't play like an 18-year-old. Maybe he's confused this course with the "short" one where he shot 58! 4 birdies, 3 bogeys, no big mistakes.
  • Ricky Barnes (+1): When I made my list, I debated between Barnes and Johnson. 1 eagle, 2 birdies, 5 bogeys, no big mistakes.
  • Dustin Johnson (E): Really good showing from "Mr. Stupid Long." Apparently his two wins at the Pebble Pro-Am do help.
  • Lucas Glover (+2): Lucas doesn't normally do well at Pebble, and Open champs rarely defend, but I thought this was a really good round.
  • Sergio Garcia (+2): Maybe... just maybe...
  • Vijay Singh (+3): Not a bad position for him.
Some others caught my attention (Duval, Compton, and Watson, to name a few) but these are the ones I think bear the most watching.

When today's over and the cut is made, we'll see how things are sorting themselves out. Since the best rounds came late in the day instead of early, there could be some seriously unexpected changes by nightfall.


  1. Lots of big names still in striking distance - but what a disasterous last 2 holes for Hudson Swafford...have I mentioned he's from the University of Georgia ? :-) He finished 6-8 (double - quad) at 8 and 9.

  2. Looks like a lot of the guys are getting hit with big numbers today. But how about Ernie Els? Nice move by the big guy!