PGA Tour: US Open in the (US's) Steel City: Notes from the Ballwasher

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Post by kwinigolfer on Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:56 pm

First topic message reminder :

1).The USGA stages the US Open at its favourite course, Oakmont, this week, just a few minutes outside Pittsburgh famous for its sporting Steelers, its Pirates, its Panthers and even its Penguins, who this weekend won ice hockey's Stanley Cup. Ironic then that, just as Pittsburgh, the Steel City, celebrates its latest sports championship, it should parade a Stanley Cup made in Sheffield.

2).And golf's most recent Major winner, Danny Willett, also travels from Sheffield, much more under the radar than Lord Stanley's Cup, with media attention focussed on who didn't win the Masters rather than the steely performer who kept his head to win the green jacket.

3).This will be Danny Willett's first competitive visit to Oakmont but one would think he has just the game to thrive on US Open lay-outs. Three Englishmen earned a Top Ten finish at Oakmont's 2007 US Open, led by Nick Dougherty, followed by Casey and Rose. Nick's no doubt got more desirable thoughts on his mind, but Casey and Rose are among 17 golfers here this year who made the cut nine years ago, led by Cabrera, of course, and followed by local boy Jim Furyk. Others include:
Toms & Watson (T5), Snedeker (T23), JJ Henry (T26), Hanson, McDowell & Schwartzel (T30), Westwood & Jeev Milkha (T36), Ogilvy (T42), Zach Johnson (T45), Els (the 1994 winner, T51) and Dufner (62nd).

Ryan Moore, an injured Mickelson, Donald, Kjeldsen, Garcia, Goosen, Scott & Stenson all missed the cut.

4).Ernie Els was the 1994 Champion, US Open specialist Jeff Maggert top tenned, Furyk, in his first US Open, finished T28 (tied with Nicklaus), while Mickelson also made the cut.

Lastly, Bill Haas made the Q-Finals of the 2003 US Amateur here, while JB Holmes, Hurley, Levin, McGirt and Senedker also qualified for Match Play.

5).Oakmont remains the one and only golf course designed by WC Fownes; originally farmland on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, the members lined fairways with trees which have now been almost completely removed, restored to the members' idea of its original design. The rough will be deep and the greens will be fast, lightning fast, specially greased by the USGA with every encouragement from members who will be thrilled to see the best pros embarrassed rather than merely identified.
Conventional wisdom has been that it favours a high-ball hitter. Low-ball hitting Larry Nelson took a lesson from 1953 Champ Ben Hogan as he tried to adjust his swing specially for Oakmont prior to Nelson's 1983 win.

6).The course will play about 7,250 yards, to a par of 70, approximately the same as 2007 when top ten finishes by Furyk, Toms and Verplank proved that precision and putting were as important as length off the tee. Although many of the Par-4's will be 470+ yard brutes, six are short by today's standards and straight "driving irons", and less, will be equally important as accuracy with the driver. Five over par won it in 2007 and no-one is expecting anyone to finish 72 holes under par.

7).This will be the second year of Fox TV doing the coverage and let's hope their effort is more professional and watchable than last year's (when they weren't helped by the unfamiliar moonscape of Chambers Bay).
Joe Buck was dreadful as anchor man (Will Ferrell would have been an improvement), but Greg Norman has been kicked out in favour of Paul Azinger who has transferred from ABC/espn. Zinger is articulate and perceptive, but not good at getting to know the golfers off his parochial radar. A bit like Johnny Miller then.

8).This will also be the penultimate week for European Tour golfers to qualify for The Open Championship via the "top five not otherwise qualified, but inside the Top 20 of the Race 2 Dubai". As I read it, the current leaders are Luiten, Karlberg, Soomin Lee, Hend and Beef, followed by Dredge and Wang. Beef looks like the only one playing this week - last chance will be in Germany next week.

9).Phil Mickelson has famously earned/suffered six 2nd place finishes in US Open competition and he certainly warmed up well (with, yes, another runner-up finish) in Memphis. Kuchar is making a habit of getting close in Majors and has finished Top 30 in his last six US Opens; plus he's been in terrific form over the past three months.
At Chambers Bay we saw Americans (3), Aussies (3), South Africans (3) and Irish N&S (2) fill out the top 11 finishers. Would expect a similarly cosmopolitan leaderboard this year.

10).Imagine Rory will play well again, but does Oakmont favour him with his terrific driving, or take that edge out of his hand too many times? Kaymer is playing well again without winning and Stenson is overdue a Major.
Seven Europeans finished in the leading dozen at this year's Masters; five Englishmen, led by Danny Willett of course, plus Kjeldsen (good e.w. bet?) and Rory.
No idea of a winner, probably Day or Rory if they can maintain their focus, but don't like their prices, 16's bar the "Top Three". Schwartzel has been in good form most of the year and looks a good each way shout at about 66's.
But wouldn't it be appropriate if Danny Willett brought the USGA's trophy back to Sheffield? (No, it wasn't made in Sheffield.)


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Post by SmithersJones on Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:00 pm

Westwood looking great right now at -3, but I suspect he may not be in the top 10 by the time round 1 is done. Looks a lot softer out there now, those starting today will have a much easier time of it.
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Post by McLaren on Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:03 pm

McIlroy better hope the cut does match 2007's +10 or my early prediction that he had missed cut written all over his play will be proven correct.
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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:10 pm

I think they'll be OK, ben. The other side of the green-speed coin is that it's unlikely they'll have been able to cut the rough which will be long and lush until the mowers can get at it.
lw1 in with a 67, Lowry hopefully right on his heels.

Horror show from Rory though; it'll be interesting to see what he has to say. 75 from Willett, 76 from Fowler. "Featured Group".
Good round, level par, for Russell Knox.

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Post by Snap Hook on Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:15 pm

Thanks for the responses.

So maybe par won't be broken, if they speed up the greens and keep the rough thick & lush, just like my hair!

Revised tee times are a bit comedy. Jason Day is off at 9:50 and 15:35 - they have seen him play right. What happens if he doesn't make his 2nd tee time - penalty shots ?!

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Post by sirbenson on Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:27 pm

Decent round from Lowry!

Mcilroy said the stop start nature to his round and that he isn't comfortable at all with his swing.

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Post by sirbenson on Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:29 pm

It's a good job it did rain cause one can only imagine how the scoring would have been with even slicker greens.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:30 pm

Snap,
They're are bunch of t0ssp0ts, have some Round 2 tee-times after 8.52 p.m. (which is sunset). Not sure how that will go down with Rory, Spieth, etc.

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Post by beninho on Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:33 pm

Rory must fancy the weekend off, and a trip to France for the 2nd round match.

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Post by Snap Hook on Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:35 pm

Kwini, I saw that and Rory was on Sky saying not sure hit tee time would happen. What a joke, think last tee time should allow a minimum of 5 holes to be played, these clearly don't.

Understandably Rory was down on himself after his round, saying not comfortable with his swing etc. Felt like he had partly given up already.

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Post by sirbenson on Fri Jun 17, 2016 4:58 pm

What do you think guys think the cut score will be and the actual winning score at the end, assuming there is no rain, I still think an over par score will get the job done.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Jun 17, 2016 5:22 pm

Cut? +8
Winning score: +4

Hedging bets there!


Ken Brown added to the Fox commentary team. Definitely our gain. Your loss? Amazing to think he played more Ryder Cups than US Majors, and never a US Open.

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Post by sirbenson on Fri Jun 17, 2016 5:32 pm

Don't think Ken Brown has really ever worked for Sky....He has been on for the Nedbank but that is probably cause Sky don't solely have there own commentators on that event!

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Post by I'm never wrong on Fri Jun 17, 2016 5:39 pm

Ken worked for Sky in the early days. At one time you could challenge him and Ewen to a match at your club.

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Post by sirbenson on Fri Jun 17, 2016 5:54 pm

Oh did he, that must have been before my time :P

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Jun 17, 2016 6:40 pm

You're so lucky you don't have to listen to Joe Buck - he's already spoken twice about Gary Stal qualifying at the Walton Health Club.

Plenty of guys playing well, scoring well; anyone a little bit off is still getting punished, which I suppose is how it should be.

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Post by sirbenson on Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:03 pm

Phil playing too conservatively?

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Post by sirbenson on Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:05 pm

Just followed Joe Buck on Twitter for this week and he tweets a lot of nonsense!

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:19 pm

A LOT of nonsense. As far as golf is concerned he doesn't know what he doesn't know and he's too stuck up himself to defer to the experts.

Sergio & DJ quite the group to watch today, both playing super golf. As is Cabrera, in his inimitable way.

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Post by 1GrumpyGolfer on Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:14 pm

DJ ties Westwood's 67 for a share of second place. DJ's was bogey free; that's some going on a US Open setup

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:16 pm

Greens being rolled between Rounds 1 and 2. Just what they need.

Well balanced scores so far, no problem here with the occasional birdie. Just hope the USGA doesn't try to get too clever with the course set-up.

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Post by sirbenson on Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:43 pm

Very early days I know but it is shaping up to be a contest between the best players without a winning a major with DJ, Westwood, Stenson and although I am not a fan....Garcia haha!

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Jun 17, 2016 9:19 pm

You missed out Lowry . . . . . . . . . . !!

Much better effort from Fox, except the two wanchors. Great to have Ken Brown and Paul Azinger.

Course looks fab.

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Post by sirbenson on Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:06 pm

As much as I am a fan of Shaneo, he still needs a good few wins to be mentioned with those don't you think Kwini?

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Post by sirbenson on Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:08 pm

Some of these pib positions look brutal.


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Post by SmithersJones on Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:12 pm

Sorry, I've only just seen that there's a farking great motorway going down the middle of the course. WTF? I mean I'm sure it's not a farking great motorway in US terms, probably a B road, but even so!
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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:21 pm

Shane has started well then sputtered a couple of times already this year. We know he has the shots, can he keep his head?

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Post by McLaren on Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:36 pm

Smithers

I think the freeway was constructed some time ago, maybe in the 50's?  Not sure if holes were lost or what.


Watching the golf on the side of the football, did I see Jamie Donaldson chuck something out the corner of my eye?
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Post by sirbenson on Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:41 pm

Yep, Donaldson totally lost it but to be fair it was cause he made a complete mess of that hole!

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Post by kwinigolfer on Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:43 pm

Andy Sullivan showing signs of life.

Cut-line looks like being +5 or +6. Lower than I would have thought.

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Post by sirbenson on Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:50 pm

This is a clinic from DJ from tee to green

Is it the top 70 for the cut mark?


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Post by SmithersJones on Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:51 pm

Does anyone else hear 'There's lovely, inet?' at the end of the NFU Mutual ad?
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Post by 1GrumpyGolfer on Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:52 pm

I think it's top 60 and ties. At least that's what I think they were discussing yesterday during the rain delays and whether that would affect the finish on Sunday

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Post by sirbenson on Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:08 am

It is indeed top 60, they just mentioned it on Sky, I swear it was the 10 shot rule a few years back? I think that should be the rule for all majors personally.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:18 am

The 10-shot safety net was withdrawn about four years ago.

Scoring seems to be getting better. Perverse.

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Post by JAS on Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:21 am

So is anyone going to start a sweepstake on what hole the DJ blow up will begin? Or is this finally the one where he doesn't fold??

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Post by 1GrumpyGolfer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:48 am

Did you just jinx him JAS? Bogey on #1, admittedly I haven't watched since he made par on 17 and just saw his save on 2.

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Post by SmithersJones on Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:24 am

I keep thinking that but he does seem more in control than I've ever seen him so maybe this is his time. Long way to go though.
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Post by 1GrumpyGolfer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:30 am

Daniel Summerhays finishes his second round with a 65 and safely inside the top ten at -1. Lee Slattery also beat par with a 68.

Henrik Stenson one of the few to beat par in round one struggling out there in round two. Looks to be in danger of missing the cut by some margin.

The cut line is +5 at the moment.

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Post by 1GrumpyGolfer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:32 am

DJ is keeping it together really well; that was a great up and down on the eighth. Perhaps he was playing it like us mere mortals would have to

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Post by 1GrumpyGolfer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:49 am

That was a great par on the 9th from Sergio after a poor tee shot left him in a really bad spot.

DJ in a with a 69, going about his business very nicely. However rounds 1 & 2 are always nice for him it's the rounds that follow that he struggles with. Maybe, just maybe, this will be his one to win.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:59 am

Some "faces" to miss the cut will include Snedeker (surprised about that), Hideki, Kjeldsen, Webb Simpson, Donaldson who needed a good result, and will include Phil and Henrik unless they can produce something special tomorrow morning.
Would still think +6 has a good chance.
Impressed with Sullivan, could easily have been lower. And not sure I ever thought of picking Lee Slattery for Grumps's game - well done to him.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 11:56 am

The Round 1 "Morning Wave" will get to pay Round 2 this morning, but their scoring average is two strokes (75.22 / 73.27) higher than their "Afternoon Wave" counterparts, most of whom played 36-ish holes Friday. Makes Landry's, Westwood's and Lowry's rounds all the more impressive, but now comes the hard part as they embark on Round 2.

Conditions should be good all day, starting on time, hopefully, at 7.00 a.m., with Round 3 starting in threesomes sometime in the early afternoon.

EDIT: Cool hole-out from 160 yds by Michael Campbell:

http://www.golfchannel.com/news/golf-central-blog/campbell-eagles-no-1-oakmont-throw-160-yards/?cid=golfchannel_majorshomepage_us_open_latestnews_position_7_link_1

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Post by sirbenson on Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:44 pm

Butch Harmon suggested in coverage last night that they may have three driveable par 4's for the last round, surely that cannot be right?

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:50 pm

Haven't heard that, sirb. But they already have the 17th and some of the Par-4's are shortish. I love driveable Par-4's when they're part of the course design, but not so much when they're created by the tournament staff. What's the point? Unless it's to pander to the longest hitters and Fox.

Should be good to go in a few minutes - not sure why they have 6.45 tee-times for Thursday, but not until 7.00 a.m. today. As Charley Hoffman said yesterday, "Can't play a professional event run by amateurs".

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Post by sirbenson on Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:58 pm

Three reachable par 4's in round does seem a bit excessive, two is ok!

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Post by 1GrumpyGolfer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:08 pm

Is having another drivable par 4 a USGA curve ball like the suddenly and significantly shortened par 5 at Olympic Fields? (The one Webb Simpson won; Jim Furyk had no idea what to do off of that tee box and blew his chances). If the pros haven't practiced from that setup they're unlikely to go all out at it unless they're firing on all cylinders. Methinks this could backfire if this is a made for tv special.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:27 pm

Stenson on his bike. One w/d, one d/q, both from Sweden.
Leading Am Scheffler kicks off with double bogey.

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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:08 pm

King Louis in with a 65.
Justin Rose going home and won't play Congressional (where he won a couple of years ago) next week. Didn't look fit and wonder whether he'll be healthy for Troon?

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Post by SmithersJones on Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:12 pm

I assume it will be threeballs all wekend, but that means 20 groups or more starting round 3 at what, 2.30? Leaders will play 9 holes at best today, do we think?
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Post by kwinigolfer on Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:18 pm

Mike Davis said yesterday that Round 4 would be played in twosomes.
Sure they'll try to achieve that, but they are wasting so much time in the morning . . . . . And you're right about can't start Round 3 until 2.30 p.m. At earliest with 5-hour rounds.

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