Surprise leaders at US Open
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2008 US Open | Round One | 13 Jun 2008
Two rather unlikely contenders have the opening round lead at the 108th US Open, Justin Hicks and Kevin Streelman at 3 under holding a narrow one shot advantage over four players at two under.
In near perfect conditions at the South Course at Torrey Pines, Hicks was in one of the first groups out from the 10th tee and although he bogeyed the his first hole, the 33-year-old, playing in just his second US Open, birdied six of his next eight holes to turn in 33. He added a birdie and a bogey over his closing nine and finished with 68.
A professional for eleven years, Hicks plays the Nationwide Tour and has won mini tour events previously. He finished runner up in an event on the Nationwide Tour in 2007 but apart from that the University of Michigan graduate has struggled in his professional career. Like so many others before him, he has gained national exposure at least for today and good luck to him but by late afternoon tomorrow we may have seen the last of Hicks anywhere near contention.
Playing later in the day, Kevin Streelman, whose pedigree in tournament golf is somewhat more significant than his co-leader, also started from the 10th tee but played his opening nine well turning in three under and adding another at his 11th hole before a bogey at the last would see him sharing the lead with Hicks.
Streelman is a rookie on the USPGA Tour this season having finished 14th at last year’s Tour School. Interestingly, he fared well at this course in January when he was in second place after 36 holes at the Buick Invitational but eventually finished 29th after playing with Tiger Woods over the weekend.
Streelman took the outright lead when he holed a lengthy birdie putt at his 11th hole and showed some grit when he holed an 18 foot par save at his 16th before the bogey at the last.
Just one shot back is a group of four players including two Australians, Stuart Appleby and Geoff Ogilvy and Americans Eric Axley and Rocco Mediate.
Appleby was out early and powered through the front nine, making the turn in three under 33 and leading at that point. A bogey late in his round at the par three 17th cost him the chance of a share of the first round lead but it was a great start for the Australian who has made only four of 11 cuts at the US Open and has a best finish of 10th right back in 1998.
Ogilvy played in the afternoon groups from the 10th tee and made a poor start with bogeys at his second and third holes. He was soon back in the thick of things with four birdies in his next six holes and as he headed for the 10th hole he was at two under and within one of the lead.
A birdie at the 10th completed a remarkable turnaround but a bogey at his 14th dropped him back and he did well to avoid another bogey at the 15th when he made a 15 foot par save. He was unable to birdie the par five last but at 2 under he is very well placed and will be buoyed by his recovery from the shaky start.
Robert Allenby is in a group of five players at 1 under and one of only eleven players to break par in what were perfect scoring conditions.
Like Ogilvy, Allenby was slow out of the gates and through four holes was three over and going nowhere. Through holes eight to thirteen he would birdie five and had turned a struggling start into contention. He was one behind at that point but bogey at the 15th after a missed four foot putt dropped him back to 1 under.
He was a little unlucky at the par five 18th after a superb fairway wood second just trickled through and he was unable to get up and down for birdie but he has made a good start and has continued his good recent form.
Of the favourites, Tiger Woods doubled the first but worked his way back into things before another double at the 14th. Still, taking everything into account he has done little damage with his round of one over 72.
Phil Mickelson threatened to destroy his chances almost before they had started when he dropped three shots before the turn and looked out of sorts. He found away to bounce back however and at even par is in very good shape.
Of the other Australians, Adam Scott played well enough for 73 although a double bogey at the 10th was costly, Rod Pampling and Aaron Baddeley had 74, Craig Parry and Jarrod Lyle 75 and Mathew Goggin 77. New Zealander, Michael Campbell, had 78.
The cut at this stage and subject to similar conditions tomorrow, appears as if it will fall around the 7 or 8 over mark.