Oakmont very kind on day one
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2007 US Open | Round One | 15 Jun 2007
Oakmont Country Club was very generous to the 2007 US Open field on day one of the 2007 Championship but there is little guarantee that she will be quite so kind over the remaining 54 holes.
After a late storm yesterday had taken much of the fire and sting out of the course in comparison to the way it had been earlier in the week, the field on day one experienced a much less demanding golf course than many had predicted. Make no mistake, however, the US Open rota’s arguably most difficult test was still just that even though only two players were able to finish their rounds under par, scoring is unlikely to be quite as easy again in the coming days.
“For us the first ten or eleven holes played as easy as this course will play,” said the defending champion Geoff Ogilvy after his morning round of 71. “It wasn’t crazy difficult this morning. It’s hard when you get off track. When you’re on track it’s okay, if you’re on the fairways and hitting decent shots. Every time I was in the fairway I did okay; every time I was in the rough, it was hard. It’s a really good score to have 1 over. It’s a tough course and it will be tougher this afternoon, for sure.”
So it was to prove. Although as many as six players were under par at one stage in the middle of the day, by the close of play only Nick Dougherty at two under and Angel Cabrera (both of whom had enjoyed those morning conditions) were in red figures.
Tiger Woods (71) had played with Ogilvy in the morning tee time of 8.09 and he had similar sentiments to his playing partner.
“The fairways didn’t play all that soft,” he said. “They were about the same. The greens were a touch softer. If we had wedges in our hand into the wind you had to worry about spinning the ball back if you had a full one, which most U.S. Open’s that’s not the case, but overall I think the USGA did a fantastic job setting up the golf course in each section. They were probably the easiest sections in that section of the green, but still look at the scores. It’s as soft and receptive as you’re possibly going to have it and not too many of the guys are taken to the golf course.”
Dougherty leads at the completion of day one, having made it into the field after leading the final qualifying in Surrey ten days ago. This is the 25 year old’s third US Open having made the cut at Pinehurst in 2005 and missing the cut last year at Winged Foot. He has played well this season in Europe with five top tens but most of those have come in the lesser events. He was buoyed by his best effort to date at this level.
“I think the course is—I hate saying it, easy; especially if a USGA official picks up on that but I think we had it as good as it could be this morning with obviously that thunderstorm yesterday, softened it up nicely.”
“Certainly makes it somewhat easier because you can stop the ball now by the holes whereas if they were firm, which they were doing gradually through the week, firming up, some of the pin positions would be extremely difficult. So it’s still frightfully tough out there so certainly I think the morning players have had the better half of it, especially if it doesn’t rain again for the rest of the tournament.”
“As far as how I played I’m delighted with that. 68, I think it’s the first under par round in a major. You know, I didn’t actually play that well tee-to-green, but obviously I but obviously I was hitting it in the right places and when I missed I never really short-sided myself all day, which is great. And my short game is red hot as it has been recently. I putted solid. I think that’s shown in the stats of the back nine, 11 putts or something on the back side which always helps. So in all, I’m delighted. That’s a great start.”
Angel Cabrera seems to have a happy knack of performing well in this event having made the cut all seven times he has played. He was out early on day one and when he birdied three of the first five holes, he was on track for a very special day. He could add only one further birdie however and with the inevitable bogies destined for his card (he finished with three of them) but at one under par 69, it was a great start.
At even par were two others who took advantage of the early conditions. The old warhorse, Jose Maria Olazabal, has not had a lot of success in recent years at the US Open but he has made just the start he was looking for and at even par he is in very good shape. He had the advantage of what was a strange draw by the USGA where three Spaniards played together. Olazabal, Sergio Garcia and Pablo Martin were playing partners on day one but while Olazabal (70) and Martin (71) took advantage, Garcia had 79 and will need a round of par or thereabouts tomorrow to be around on Saturday.
Also at even par was the long hitting Bubba Watson who was in the second group out from the 10th tee and birdied three of his last six holes to finish with his round of 70. Surprisingly it was not his long hitting that was the feature of his day but rather his putting. He had 27 putts the equal second best in that category.
Several of those at one over par 71 are still likely to feature over the next few days. Amongst those, Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilvy and Jim Furyk are all likely contenders for the title although Furyk has the advantage in that he plays in the morning tomorrow. He kept it on the fairways today but it will be interesting to see if he misses any over the next few days how the wrist injury from earlier this year holds up. He looked very good today however.
Ogilvy (71) was the best of the Australians although it was not looking that way until very late in the day. Marcus Fraser, who, like Dougherty, had qualified in Surrey last week, was making a great fist of his first US Open and just his third Major Championship when he reached the tee at his last hole of the day. He had fought back from a shaky start to be at even par but a double there (the 9th) took him from a share of third to 21st at 2 over.
Aaron Baddeley is also at 2 over which, given his double bogey start, was full of merit.
Many of those at four over or better are still very much in this event in terms of winning and with the cut likely to fall around the 9 over mark, provided conditions remain as calm as they were today, then many, even as far back as 76 will not yet feel out working their way back into the event.