Golf

Day 1 recap: Tiger struggles, Spieth in striking distance at US Open

A look at how some of the golfers did Thursday at the 115th U.S. Open at Chambers Bay (check back throughout the day for updates):

AFTERNOON GOLFERS:

TIGER FAR FROM THE TOP

There was a bright spot for Tiger Woods, despite shooting an opening-round 80, and making noise when his club sailed out of his hands an estimated 15 feet on the eighth hole.

“… At least I kicked Rickie (Fowler’s) butt today,” said Woods, who shot 10-over par 80, one shot ahead of playing partner Rickie Fowler.

Fielding only eight post-round questions, Woods discussed his disappointment, his lack of consistency, and taking away positives from one of the worst opening-round performances of his career, in which he made only one birdie – on a par-3 No. 16 hole – that moved him to 9-over but only for a short while.

Two holes later on 18, his sent his second shoot deep into the fairway bunker. He pitched it out on his way to bogey No. 8 on the round.

As for the positives he takes away on a day that started 4-over after six holes?

“I couldn’t grind out any harder than that,” Woods said. “So that’s just the way I played and unfortunately, it was a high number today.”

For the 195th-ranked player in the world who hasn’t won a major since the 2008 U.S. Open, Woods is in danger of missing the cut at Chambers.

Yet, he still feels like he’s on the right track to where he wants to be.

“I know when I do it right, it’s easy,” Woods said. “It just feels easy to control, easy to do it, easy to hit my shots. I just need to do it more often and build from there.”

Meg Wochnick, staff writer

SPIETH IN CONTENTION AFTER ‘EERIE’ ROUND

Jordan Spieth walked with Justin Rose and Jason Day down the eighth hole and said he noticed something he hasn’t ever before in a major championship golf tournament.

“I’ve never played an entire hole in a major championship with no gallery,” the 21-year-old Spieth said. “It was eerie. It was kind of odd. And there’s the delayed reaction from the crowd because they’re so far away.”

The eighth is one of four holes with no viewing areas. It was one of the many unique aspects of the course Spieth talked about after finishing his first round at 2-under 68.

“There were just so many options that they can use on this course,” Spieth said. “There were some pins where I was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t think they’d actually put it there.”

Another was the greens, which he said played completely different from the practice greens.

“It was a tough adjustment on the course because the green speeds on the course are significantly slower than they are on the practice greens,” Spieth said. “… I left probably five or six putts three to six feet short just given my speed control as adjusted to the practice green. And of course it didn’t really speed up for the most part.”

Spieth made up ground with a birdie run of three consecutive holes on 11, 12 and 13. He bogeyed 15 and made par the next three holes to finish three strokes behind the lead.

“I thought today was the most scoreable day,” Spieth said. “And it’s going to get more challenging from here.”

TJ Cotterill, staff writer

DAY SHARES FRUSTRATION, SAYS ‘ATTITUDE’ IS IMPORTANT

Jason Day revealed that the sentiment over Chambers Bay hosting the U.S. Open isn’t all love and praise.

“There’s a lot of guys that have come into this day already frustrated at the course,” Day said. “Not only how long it can be and how tough it can be, but you can get some good breaks and bad breaks.

“Those couple of shots that Jordan (Spieth) hit obviously weren’t that great, but ended up great, you know. It’s just how it goes.”

Day actually had a pretty good first round, ending at 2-under 68 and three strokes off the lead – even after he double-bogeyed the 15th hole.

“Bloody 15th hole,” the Australian joked.

He said the wind felt heavy and that kept the ball from flying as far as he would have liked. But that he was happy overall being below par for the first round.

“But it’s only going to get tougher and tougher as the week goes on and everyone knows that,” Day said. “It’s all about the attitude. You have to have a good attitude in U.S. Opens. It’s easy to play yourself out of the tournament real quick here.”

He gave the Northwest fans some love, too.

“The fans were great. I can understand why the Seahawk fans are pretty intimidating at times,” Day said.

TJ Cotterill, staff writer

MARTIN ENJOYS COURSE, IN THE HUNT

One of 11 players to eagle hole 12, Ben Martin tied the tournament leaders before finishing the first round in a 3-way tie for third.

He started on No. 10 and was 4-under-par at the turn. His birdie on the par-4 second put him at minus-5 with the leaders. But bogies on Nos. 3 and 5 knocked him down a few pegs.

“I think this U.S. Open setup, it tests every part of your game,” said Martin, playing in his first U.S. Open as a pro. “You have to drive it well, hit your irons well, your short game has to be on. And I just came out and felt like everything was kind of firing on all cylinders, so I got off to a great start.”

“… Kind of just was keeping it simple, hitting it in the fairway, hitting it on the green and making a few putts and playing golf like you want to play it.”

Martin arrived June 12 to start studying the course.

“I think so far that’s paid off, getting to learn the course a little bit more,” he said. “… I like this golf course. I like when it gets firm and fast. And usually the more you can enjoy the type of course you’re playing, the better you can play.”

He especially enjoyed the back nine.

“I think I hit the shots where you’re supposed to hit it,” Martin said. “And out here you’re not going to be able to hit it close on every hole. And I made a few long putts. Just kind of a combination of keeping it in the fairway, hitting some good shots and rolling the putts in.”

Craig Hill, staff writer

AMATEUR CAMPBELL CONFIDENT AFTER 67

Brian Campbell didn’t seem to care that an amateur has won the U.S. Open since John Goodman did it in 1933.

“I’m up there and definitely have the game to do what needs to be done,” the 22-year-old Campbell said.

He shot 3-under 67 to sit two strokes back of co-leaders Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson after missing the cut in last year’s Open Championship.

“It’s definitely weird walking around the practice range with all these guys that you’ve watched your whole life,” Campbell said. “The transition is definitely a tough feat, but I’m getting used to it.”

Campbell, one of 16 amateurs in the field, felt at home on the greens, tying for the best putt average of the day with Stenson at 1.50 per hole.

Being in the afternoon group, Campbell said he tried to stay up as late as he could Wednesday night and sleep in as late as he could Thursday to make it feel like as much a normal morning as possible.

“I think I just wanted to treat it like any other tournament,” he said. “Not really thinking too much of it being the U.S. Open. … It was nice to play with Cheng-Tsung Pan from (the University of Washington). Kind of had that college tournament feel today.”

TJ Cotterill, staff writer

ROSE DISAPPOINTED WITH 72

All was going fairly well for Justin Rose, winner of the 2013 U.S. Open, until he reached the par-3 15th.

The Englishman bogeyed Nos. 15, 17 and 18 to finish with a 2-over-par 72.

“I threw my round away at the end. I could or should have been 3-under par, probably through – by about 12 or 13,” Rose, 34, said. “But I just couldn’t get the ball in the hole and just a really weak finish, some poor clubs and some tired, lazy swings at the end. All in all, a little bit disappointed.

“I felt like I finished poorly, but I felt like I could have gotten a lot more out of the day.”

He said Chambers Bay wore him down.

“It’s a long day, it’s a long golf course,” he said. “Yeah, I mean, obviously it’s been a long week trying to prepare for it, too. But same for everybody, you know. I think more just the time. It feels like it’s getting dark. It feels like it’s a late night. It’s more a body clock thing more than a physical tiredness thing.”

He wasn’t happy with the greens and said, “I really hope the greens roll better in the morning because it wasn’t a lot of fun out there in the afternoon.

“I couldn’t see a putt staying on the line I hit it on and (that) makes it a little frustrating at times. I’m hoping I can get some good looks at it tomorrow and the ball rolls a little truer, so I feel like I can make some birdies.”

Craig Hill, staff writer

GOOD DAY FOR GRACE

After a slow start, South African Branden Grace spent most of Thursday under par while the others in his threesome (Brendon Todd and Thongchai Jaidee) finished over par.

After an eagle on the par-3 12th (Grace’s group started on No. 10) he spent the rest of the day in the red. He was 3-under after 11 holes but bogies on Nos. 3 and 7 meant a 1-under-par finish.

A good day, he said.

“I got off to a flier, and the wind picked up a little bit and it got tougher out there,” Grace said. “But it was mostly concentration. It got really slower on the back nine, a couple of groups held up there. So I think that was the cause of two bogeys. But it was a good, positive day.”

He said the eagle was the highlight.

“… I just kept hitting good shot after good shot and managed to make a couple of putts, which was nice,” Grace said.

Craig Hill, staff writer

SCHNEIDERJANS FEELING STRONG

Ollie Schniederjans, a 22-year-old amateur who earned his college degree last month, shot a 1-under-par 69 and he thinks he can do even better Friday.

“It was a lot of fun and beyond my expectations for a Thursday,” said Schniederjans, a three-time all-American at Georgia Tech. “… And the atmosphere is amazing. I felt very comfortable with my game and just myself out there, so I was pretty pleased with it. And I feel like I … left some shots out there and I could do even better tomorrow and it was a lot of fun.”

Schniederjans advanced to the round of 16 at the U.S. Amateur last summer. He earned a degree management on May 2.

Craig Hill, staff writer

LUITEN UNDER PAR

Joost Luiten broke par for the first time in his career at a U.S. Open and it was good enough to make the leaderboard.

Luiten, 29, was tied for seventh after his 2-under-par round of 68, but golfers were still on the course.

“I’m very happy with that round,” Luiten said. “It’s a tough golf course, and you know that before you go out. And to shoot 68 in the first round, I mean, that’s a good start. And I think I’m very pleased with that.”

Luiten has four European Tour wins, the most recent coming in 2014, but he didn’t make the cut in his only U.S. Open appearance. Luiten shot a 70 in the opening round at last year’s tournament, but missed the cut.

“It’s my second U.S. Open, and that’s what you’re hoping for, to get you into the tournament, so you can settle down a little bit,” Luiten said. “But it’s still a long way, it’s only one round and we’ve got three more to go. You just need to be top of your game every day.”

Craig Hill, staff writer

MCCARTHY STAYS STEADY

Denny McCarthy, an amateur who recently graduated from Virginia, had a simple plan for his first-ever round at the U.S. Open. Don’t shoot anything worse than a bogey.

He achieved his goal Thursday evening and finished with a solid 1-over-par 71. He had four bogies and three birdies.

“I kept my highest score as a bogey, which was good,” McCarthy, 22, said. “I think any day you can eliminate high numbers like doubles and triples, it’s somewhat of a successful day. That was one of my goals going into (Thursday) was no doubles and I did that. There was one time today I was staring double in the face, but I grinded it out and made a good bogey.

“… My brother (and caddie) did a good job of keeping me focused. I got one back on 16, and then finished with two pars. All in all, I’m pretty pleased with the round. I didn’t shoot myself out of the tournament, I’m still right there.”

Craig Hill, staff writer

HURLEY HAS A ROUGH DAY

Billy Hurley III would love to forget the first round of his second U.S. Open.

After playing the first four hole at even par, he bogeyed No. 5, then triple-bogeyed the par-5 eighth. By the time his round finished he’d carded a 10-over-par 80.

The plus side, he knows what he has to do to get back in the mix.

“You have got to shoot the course record, I guess, and then hope the cut still comes back to you,” Hurley said. “We’ll take it as a learning experience. I’m playing good. Just hit a couple loose shots and that’s golf, that’s U.S. Open golf. You hit bad shots and you make big numbers. That’s just how it goes.”

Hurley, 33, finished tied for 48th at last year’s U.S. Open.

Craig Hill, staff writer

MORNING GOLFERS:

STENSON FIGHTS THROUGH ADVERSITY TO 65

Henrik Stenson already began the Open less than 100 percent.

It’s not him, though. His caddie, Gareth Lord, suffered what Stenson called a “potentially broken wrist” during Wednesday’s final practice round on the 16th green. Stenson teed off Thursday with Lord wearing a soft cast.

Stenson didn’t discredit the riskiness the course brings.

“It’s dangerous out there,” Stenson said. “That’s all I can say.”

Stenson, though, still got off to a hot start in his opening-round. Through 13, he sat at 1-under, and used a dominate stretch to finish at 5-under 65. He fired a back-9 31, including three straight birdies on 14, 15, and 16, then birdied 18.

“It was a good day for me on the greens,” Stenson said.

Meg Wochnick, staff writer

RORY CARDS ‘FRUSTRATING’ 72

It was a frustrating first round for the world’s No. 1 golfer.

Rory McIlroy shot 2-over on Thursday, which was particularly disappointing because he said he “definitely thought it was a day where you could shoot under par, and I didn’t take advantage of that.”

McIlroy bogeyed the seventh, ninth, 14th and 15th holes, and birdied 11 and 16.

He said his putting needs to improve.

“I hit a lot of fairways (10 of 14) and greens (12 of 18), I just didn’t quite have it with the putter today,” McIlroy said. “And that’s something that I need to get right over the next three days if I want to have a chance.”

Christian Caple, staff writer

CONFIDENT REED SHOOTS 66

Patrick Reed can’t draw upon multiple past U.S. Open experiences because he’s only had one and it dates back to last year’s championship at Pinehurst No. 2.

And the success he found a year ago – finishing tied for 35th – bolstered his confidence for a 4-under 66 on Thursday.

The difference between 2014 and 2015 for Reed? Better swings on the driver.

“It feels like right now I found a really good driver,” he said. “(I) feel like I’m making some quality shots and swings.”

Reed reached sole possession of the lead Thursday after eight holes at 4-under, behind birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 – his eighth and ninth holes – to finish with five birdies for the round. His first and only bogey came on the approach on the par-4 No. 1 when hit shot fell off a hill left of the green.

He dropped back to 3-under, but made up for it with birdies on 6 and 9 to close out his round. By leaving six birdies short, he knows about the opportunities missed, too.

“All I had to do was get the ball to the hole and it had a chance of going in,” Reed said.

Meg Wochnick, staff writer

WOODLAND GOES TO HOSPITAL

Gary Woodland, the 29th-ranked player in the world, hopes to play Friday after being admitted to Tacoma General Hospital after his round Thursday, his agent said.

Woodland “has been under the weather since Sunday and has been severely dehydrated,” according to a statement issued by agent Mark Steinberg. “While Gary felt he had turned the corner earlier this week, he experienced a significant relapse within the last 36 hours.”

He received fluids Thursday morning. After shooting a 4-over-par 74 Thursday at Chambers Bay, Woodland was admitted to the hospital for testing. “The hospital confirmed Gary has a virus,” Steinberg said in the statement. “He is currently being treated with additional IV fluids and hopes to play tomorrow.”

Woodland was shooting even par through 12 holes, but bogied the next four (holes 4-7).

Woodland, 31, has four professional victories. His best U.S. Open finish came in 2011 when he tied for 23rd.

Craig Hill, staff writer

DEFENDING CHAMP KAYMER CALLS 2-OVER ‘DECENT’

Martin Kaymer finished the first round two-over par, but the defending Open champion didn’t seem all that bothered by his 72.

Kaymer, who began his round on the 10th hole, sandwiched an eagle on the par-4 12th between a bogey on 11 and a double-bogey on 13.

“There was a lot happening in the first hour,” he said. “But then I hit a lot of good drives, a lot of good putts off the green. A lot of the long putts, I hit very close to the hole. Obviously it’s a tough one to play. You will miss a few putts within five, six feet because the greens aren’t absolutely perfect. But overall, I think 2-over par is a decent score for the first round.”

The 30-year-old German won last year’s U.S. Open championship at Pinehurst No. 2 by a whopping eight strokes. As of early Thursday afternoon, he trailed leaders Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson – both of whom shot a 5-under 65 – by seven strokes.

Still, Kaymer said he enjoyed the round.

“You have to be very creative,” he said. “You have to think about where you want to leave the ball, and then you think you hit a good shot and it ends up in a completely different position. So you have to adjust a lot on the golf course in the moment, really. I enjoy playing those golf courses a lot. It’s never really boring.”

Christian Caple, staff writer

MICKELSON UNDER PAR, MINDFUL OF GREENS

Phil Mickelson commends Chambers Bay.

But what he feels is the biggest challenge for the 156-golfer field is the varying green speeds he experienced during his opening-round, 1-under 69.

“That’s going to wreak havoc on our touch,” Mickelson said. “And that’s the only thing I could possibly think of that is not really positive, because I think it’s been very well done.”

The six-time U.S. Open runner-up had steady play all morning, making three birdies and two bogeys, but more notably, no double-bogeys. His 15-foot putt for bogey on the 546-yard par-4 14th hole saved a potential double. He parred the final four holes.

“That was a big one,” Mickelson said. “You’re going to make bogeys … it’s the doubles you want to try to avoid.

“To make that one and not make any doubles, that was a big one for me.”

Meg Wochnick, staff writer

PUTNAM OFF EARLY, FINISHES AT 70

First off the tee at No. 1 was University Place’s Michael Putnam. He might have missed the fairway and made an opening bogey, but he recovered to post an even-par 70.

In the first round ever played at Chambers Bay’s back tees in 2007, Putnam also shot 70.

“Today’s 70 was a lot better, considering the circumstances and how the course is playing,” Putnam said. “(I’m) really pleased. I played really well today.”

As he waited for his first-tee introduction, Putnam took three effortful swings. Once his name was called, he waved twice to a considerably large gathering.

“I couldn’t believe how many people were here at 7 a.m. to watch ...,” Putnam said. “That means they’re getting to shuttles at 6 and 5 (a.m.). It’s cool to see that support.”

Todd Milles, staff writer

KELLY CARDS A 72

Troy Kelly, the Central Kitsap High School graduate who now lives in Tacoma, opened with a 72.

“It was definitely nerve-racking. It is tough to play in front of your home crowd. You don’t want to let anybody down. You want to play well, and show your talents out there a little bit,” Kelly said. “Once I … kind of settled in, then I got comfortable. It was just golf again.

“Obviously we are on a big stage here.”

Kelly made the turn at 1-under, but got tangled in the tall, thick fescue rough on the right side at the second hole, leading to double bogey.

“I hung in there tough,” Kelly said.

Todd Milles, staff writer

HAMMER’S DAY ‘AWESOME’ DESPITE 77

Cole Hammer started with a prayer.

Cameras caught the 15-year-old before his first tee shot on the 10th hole Thursday morning, and before he did, he took a prayer as he normally does.

“It was awesome,” said Hammer, who finished 7-over 77 on the day, after parring three of his first four holes. “I can’t even describe what I felt on the first tee. It was like a nervous excitement. It was so cool.”

Hammer is one of 17 amateurs in the field, the most in a U.S. Open since 1981.

Meg Wochnick, staff writer

WARREN WEARY, BUT 2 UNDER

Marc Warren’s feeling it.

Mostly in his legs.

“For links-style golf, which is obviously firm, your legs will feel it and your feet will feel it at the end of the day,” said Warren, who shot a 2-under 68.

“I said to my caddie, Ken (Herring), that come Sunday you are going to know you have been in a golf tournament the last week.”

TJ Cotterill, staff writer

GRIBBLE’S EARLY BIRDIE CALMS NERVES

Cody Gribble wasn’t as nervous in his second U.S. Open as his first last year.

Especially not after the 24-year-old birdied the first hole.

Gribble completed his first round at 2-under-par 68 with three birdies and a bogey.

“I started off really hot here with a six iron and tapped it in,” the Dallas native said. “That helped me settle down a little bit.”

TJ Cotterill, staff writer

LEE’S BOGEY DRAWS CHEERS

When Richard Lee’s 7-foot putt dropped into the hole on the par-3 seventh, the crowd cheered.

This was not surprising. Lee attended Newport High School before starring at the University of Washington, so he’s a local favorite this week.

He was just a little taken aback that so many people were cheering for … a bogey.

“It was a great bogey,” he cracked, “but I did not expect that kind of cheer after making bogey.”

He made more of those than he’d have liked, finishing the day with a disappointing 4-over 74 that was shaped by his double-bogey on the par-4 12th.

“I hit a lot of my spots,” Lee said. “I shot 4-over but I felt like I could have easily been even par, maybe 1-under.

Christian Caple, staff writer

CHAMBERS BAY FEELS LIKE OPEN FOR KUCHAR

It didn’t look like a normal U.S. Open to Matt Kuchar.

But it felt like one.

“There’s great energy. You know it by the crowds and the fans,” said Kuchar, who turns 37 on Sunday. “There’s still something about a U.S. Open that’s unique is that you’re a little nervous on the course. You know things can get away quickly if you are not dialed in just right. If you are not hitting crisp, good, quality shots. You are going to go places you don’t want to be.

“So that part, I certainly knew I was at a U.S. Open.”

Kuchar shot 3-under-par 67 in his first round. His lone hiccup was a bogey on the fifth hole.

He was thinking Chambers Bay might be a bogey course after his practice rounds.

“I played Sunday afternoon and that was about as firm as I’ve seen a golf course,” Kuchar said. “I was pleasantly surprised Monday to see it soften back up and today was quite playable. … It was a really, really good setup.”

TJ Cotterill, staff writer

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