Thursday, September 17, 2020

U.S. Open, Day One

I'm very happy that they are playing the U.S. Open, but I don't know how much of it I will watch.  It's usually all by itself, in the middle of June, and now it's crowded in with a bunch of other sports.  Anyway, it's being played at Winged Foot Golf Club, in the Westchester suburbs of New York.  Hale Irwin won the 1974 Open at Winged Foot, as you can read in Dick Schaap's book, Massacre at Winged Foot.  This is the second-best book about golf ever written.

Anyway, there won't be a massacre this year, although there may be a really good tournament.  I can only imagine the fury of the members as they saw today's low scores.  I am certain that the USGA's Mike Davis, who always treats the U.S. Open as his own personal playground, is very familiar with the history of Winged Foot.  Apparently he decided the course was too difficult.  So the scores are surprisingly low.  Nevertheless, Winged Foot is a truly great golf course, and usually produces a very solid winner.  Here's the history of the U.S. Open at Winged Foot:

In 1929, Bobby Jones birdied the last hole to send the Open into a playoff with Al Espinosa.  Jones won the playoff.

In 1959, Billy Casper beat Bob Rosberg by one shot, winning with a score of 2 over par.

In 1974, Hale Irwin and Tom Watson were the last group on Sunday.  Irwin won the tournament, but finished 7 over par.

In 1984, Fuzzy Zoeller and Greg Norman had a spectacular duel, both finishing at 4 under.  Zoeller beat Norman in the playoff.

In 2006, both Phil Mickelson and Colin Montgomerie blew their best chances to win the National Open when they both double-bogeyed the last hole.  They fell into a tie for second with Jim Furyk at 6 over par.  Geoff Ogilvie won with 5 over.

So you usually have to be pretty good to win here.

It was a very good day for Justin Thomas of Louisville St. Xavier High School.  It was a very bad day for Jordan Spieth (tied for 71st), Tiger Woods (T71), Dustin Johnson (T71), Sergio Garcia (T92), Collin Morikawa (T120), and Phil Mickelson, who shot a nine-over par 79 and is currently tied for 142d place.  None of them is likely to win this year's National Open.

Here is the top 10 after the first round:

1.  J. Thomas-5 (65)

T2.  P. Reed: -4 (66)
T2.  T. Pieters (BEL):  -4 (66)
T2.  M. Wolff-4 (66)

T5.  R. McIlroy (NIR):  -3 (67)
T5.  L. Westwood (ENG):  -3 (67)
T5.  L. Oosthuizen (RSA):  -3 (67)

T8.  J. Kokrak-2 (68)
T8.  B. Todd-2 (68)
T8.  H. English-2 (68)
T8.  R. Cabrera Bello (ESP):  -2 (68)
T8.  J. Niemann (CHI):  -2 (68)
T8.  X. Schauffele-2 (68)

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