UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. (AP) — The latest from the U.S. Open (all times local):
Chambers Bay was not built with pedestrian access as a priority.
The USGA is hearing about it, too.
Fans have been grumbling the first two days of the U.S. Open about the difficulty in following groups. But the USGA says the unique dunes and slick fescue has made safety more important than good vantage points.
Championship director Danny Sink said Friday the USGA is attempting to make adjustments on the fly, but safety will remain the priority. It’s also why there are 18,000 bleacher seats.
“We’re not going to sacrifice safety to give our spectators more shots, more angles, more views,” Sink said. “We’ve been conservative and we’ve made sure people are not going in places where they are going to fall down and get hurt.”
Joe Buck and Greg Norman anchoring U.S. Open coverage for Fox caused plenty of headlines, but the “featured group” coverage team has stolen the show.
Led by Tim Brando with analysis from Mark Brooks, Buddy Marucci and Natalie Gulbis, the team has followed one group each day. On Friday, it was Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose.
Couple of the gems from the second round?
Brando was pondering the role of caddies when he asked Brooks, a former major winner, how much he relied on his. Brooks replied, “Depends how much he’d been drinking.”
Later, Jason Day had a poor lie in a fairway bunker. The prudent shot was to punch out, but Brooks astutely observed that egos often override logic when he deadpanned, “These guys aren’t very good at pitching out.”
Day wound up going for the green. He found another bunker.
Give Rickie Fowler credit for taking his struggles in stride.
The winner of The Players Championship arrived at Chambers Bay for his early tee time in Friday’s second round dressed head to toe in royal blue. He was standing near the practice green when Masters champion Jordan Spieth approached him.
“Why are you blue?” Spieth asked, innocently.
Fowler looked at him and replied, “I shot 81.”
The young friends both laughed before finishing their warmup for the second round.
Daniel Summerhays and Tony Finau are posting two of Friday’s best rounds at the U.S. Open.
Never heard of them? You’re probably not from Utah.
Summerhays, the nephew of Champions Tour player Bruce Summerhays, grew up in the town of Fruit Heights. Finau grew up in the Rose Park area of Salt Lake City. Both have put down roots in their home state, too.
That’s not their only connection, either. Finau’s coach is Summerhays’s brother, Boyd.
Summerhays shot an even-par 70 in the opening round, and was 4 under Friday after two birdies to start his second nine. Finau shot 69 on Thursday and had reached 2 under.
Jason Day made quite the birdie to start his second nine in the U.S. Open.
After making the turn in 1 under, Day hit his approach into a greenside bunker at the par-5 first hole. He had a simple lie but hit it much too hard, and the ball picked up speed only as it rolled past the hole and down a steep bank, finally stopping 50 yards away.
Day promptly holed his pitch from there, tossing his club in the air with a smile.
As fans in the grandstand roared their approval, the popular Australian plucked his ball out of the hole and chucked it into the crowd.
Chambers Bay finally bit back at Jordan Spieth.
After making three birdies on his first eight holes to take the U.S. Open lead Friday, the Masters champ hit into a fairway bunker at the long par-4 18th.
Aggressively trying to reach the green, Spieth played a long iron that didn’t have enough loft to get over the bunker’s lip. The ball squirted ahead and to the right, nestling into ankle-high fescue. His next shot scooted across the fairway and into a greenside bunker.
With about 6,000 fans watching in the massive grandstand, Spieth’s usually calm demeanor seemed to crack. He wound up with a two-putt double bogey to drop from the lead.
Amateur Brian Campbell briefly moved into a tie for the lead at the U.S. Open on Friday.
The accompanying roar was probably from the folks at the USGA.
The caretaker of the sport in the U.S. has always sought to highlight amateurism in its national championship. It is part of the reason there are fewer exemptions than in other major championships, including the British Open, and more opportunities to qualify.
Campbell has done exactly that the past two years. The University of Illinois standout missed the cut by a shot last year at Pinehurst, but had two early birdies and was 5 under Friday before dropping a shot at the par-4 fourth.
Asked whether he thinks an amateur can actually win, Campbell replied: “I think so, yeah. I’m up there and definitely have the game to do what needs to be done.”
Fitness could play a role in the U.S. Open by Sunday.
Players and their caddies walked about nine miles in the opening round on Thursday, and they weren’t exactly the kind of miles you might find on a traditionally flat links course.
There’s the long climb to the green at No. 4, and a similar hike at No. 13. From the lowest point on the course, the 17th green hard against Puget Sound, to the highest point near the sixth tee, there is more than 200 feet in elevation change.
That’s about half the height of the Space Needle in nearby Seattle.
Justin Rose conceded that “it’s a long golf course” after his opening round.
The toughest hole at Chambers Bay is the 515-yard, par-4 seventh, which has tall fescue to the left, a wide waste bunker on the right and an uphill climb to the green.
Jamie Lovemark figured out a way to solve it Friday.
Lovemark hit his approach into the greenside bunker, splashed out and watched his ball trickle into the hole for a rare birdie — there were just 11 of them at No. 7 on Thursday.
That moved Lovemark to 2 under after his even-par 70 in the opening round.
Tiger Woods continues to struggle with his game. He made bogey at the par-4 10th, his first hole of the day. Playing partner Rickie Fowler is also off to another rough start.
Get ready for another long, long day at the U.S. Open.
It is almost inevitable at the national championship, considering the size of the 156-player field and its typically brutal conditions. But rounds stretched more than 5 1/2 hours on Thursday for a number of reasons unique to Chambers Bay.
Some players stopped entirely while trains clattered by on the tracks lining two holes on the back side. There are long hikes between holes. Tall fescue can envelope wayward shots.
Then there is the layout itself. On Friday, the grouping of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Justin Rose had to wait about 15 minutes on the par-4 12th, their third hole of the day, for the green to clear because of its drivable distance.
All of which makes patience a virtue at the U.S. Open.
Much of the focus at the U.S. Open this week has been on golf’s latest generation, the 20-something stars such as Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.
Turns out the geriatric generation is having its say.
Colin Montgomerie, who turns 52 next week, opened with a 1-under 69. So did 51-year-old Miguel Angel Jimenez, whose bizarre stretching regimen sure seems to be paying off.
Jimenez finished second in the U.S. Open in 2000, when Spieth was 6 years old.
Two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen, who turns 51 in August, was medalist in his qualifier in Purchase, New York. He shot 73 in the opening round.
When asked whether he had any doubts about competing, Janzen replied: “Like, why would I try and qualify for an 8,000 yard golf course, because I’m playing with old guys now?”
This week, playing with the old guys isn’t such a slight.
It is commonplace for big names to play together, particularly at majors. It makes it easier for fans on the course to see the stars and it helps simplify the television broadcast.
Players also tend to feed off one another.
So, you get Masters champion Jordan Spieth playing with Jason Day and Justin Rose at the U.S. Open, all in a group just ahead of Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler and Louis Oosthuizen.
Those two groups could not have been more different Thursday.
Spieth, Day and Rose certainly fed off each other, a combined 2 under in the tough afternoon conditions. Woods, Fowler and Oosthuizen also fed off each other — to the tune of 28 over.
Let’s hope Robert Streb knows where he’s going.
When he showed up Sunday, he wasn’t aware of a back tee on No. 1 that allows it to be played as a par 5. That’s the case for the second round Friday.
The USGA has switched the par on two holes — No. 1 will be a par 5 that likely will feature a blind shot into the green for those who try to reach in two. No. 18 goes from a par 5 to a par 4.
Either way, Chambers Bay remains a par 70.
The first hole will be about 600 yards on Friday (it was 501 yards on Thursday). The closing hole will be about 525 yards for the second round. It was 617 yards on Thursday and reachable by most players — Tiger Woods was an exception.
With winds at a standstill and a slight mist rolling off Puget Sound, the second round of the U.S. Open got underway at Chambers Bay just south of Seattle on Friday.
Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson had the lead at 5 under after the opening round, though both of them played in the morning Thursday. The wind kicked up, greens hardened and conditions changed dramatically by the time the second wave teed off in the afternoon.
Will they have their chance to go low going off early in Round 2?
Better question: Will Tiger Woods rebound from his 10-over 80, an opening round that saw him send a club boomeranging into the fescue (an accident), top a fairway metal into a bunker and in general look like a 20-handicap hacker much of the afternoon?