Wanna hear a joke? Sure you do. What do you wear when you play golf near the ocean? A marine layer! Boy, we have fun here, don’t we.
The first round of the U.S. Open got off to a delayed start on Thursday as fog settled in at Torrey Pines. Most players were able to complete their first rounds, but a few will need to return early tomorrow. Russell Henley is the clubhouse leader after a round of 67 (-4), but Louis Oosthuizen (-4) has two holes to play and could tie or overtake that lead.
Yawn – Before we get to the leaderboard, we have to address the distinct lack of juice on day one of the U.S. Open. We see Torrey Pines every year at the Farmers Insurance Open, and Thursday felt very much like a normal PGA Tour event, not a major. Yes, if big names are battling it out on Sunday, the excitement will pick up, but the golf course isn’t going to make much of a contribution. If you haven’t yet read Andy Johnson’s piece on how Torrey South could be improved, check it out.
Wash, rinse, repeat – Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele both turned in rounds of 69 on Thursday and sit two shots off the pace. Fixtures in recent major championships, these guys are not surprising to see on the leaderboard. Koepka’s health is clearly not 100% yet and he hasn’t played well since his runner-up at the PGA Championship, but he always seems to have something in the tank for majors. We’re pretty confident he’ll be a main character on Sunday—and Xander, too.
Sabbatini? No, the other one – Rory McIlroy finished in near darkness, and he hasn’t completely shot himself out of the tournament yet! The 2011 U.S. Open champion, who has struggled out of the gates at many recent majors, got off to a hot start on Thursday but ultimately settled for a 70. He made a clutch par putt on No. 17 as the light crept away, then birdied the par-5 18th in the obsidian. Let’s see if he can make a run at his first major title since 2014.
Welcome back – After an incredibly unfortunate situation at the Memorial Tournament, world No. 3 Jon Rahm opened with 69 on Thursday. Playing in the more difficult afternoon wave, Rahm looked decent in his first action in two weeks. A past winner at the Farmers Insurance Open, Rahm really hasn’t been in contention yet in a major championship. Maybe this is finally his week!
The defending champ – Bryson DeChambeau got off to a rocky start on Thursday but is by no means out of the event. He shot a 73 and even got in the background of another Brooks Koepka interview!
A Shane Bacon special – Playing in his first event since the Masters, Matthew Wolff had an up-and-down day on Thursday. The 22-year-old made eight birdies, three bogeys, and two double bogeys on his way to a 70. A true psycho scorecard. It was good to see the budding superstar back out there after a two-month absence. He was understandably burnt out and took some time off to rechard. “Golf is life when you’re out here,” Wolff told Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner. “When things aren’t going your way, it’s hard to put things in perspective. But you’ve just gotta be happy. If you’re not enjoying yourself and if you’re not happy, it doesn’t matter how much money you’re making or what you do, it’s probably not worth doing it.”
“I’d like to get rid of them”
As if the U.S. Open wasn’t enough excitement for the week, Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch reported that the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council voted to outlaw green-reading books for next season. According to Lynch, there was “overwhelming” support of the ban from the council. A full vote from the full board of the PGA Tour is still needed for the ban for it to go into effect, but that step seems likely at this point.
PAC chairman Rory McIlroy didn’t hold back when asked about green books on Wednesday. “I’d like to get rid of them,” he said. “Honestly, I think it’s made everyone lazier. People don’t put in the time to prepare the way they used to.”
Couldn’t agree more, Rory! The ability to read greens is a skill, and those who are better at it should be rewarded. For the past few years, the Masters, which doesn’t allow the books, has been the only tournament where truly gifted green readers have gotten to show their stuff. As far as we’re concerned, this is a great step for the PGA Tour.
Nasa Hataoka, Charley Hull, Min Lee, Sophia Popov, and Gabriela Ruffels are all in the mix at the Meijer LPGA Classic in Michigan. Leaderboard
More than a dozen players shot 66 or better on Thursday during the first round of the Wichita Open on the Korn Ferry Tour. Leaderboard
We don’t want to make a big deal out of it, but the NBC coverage of Thursday at the U.S. Open was a disgrace. If you didn’t know it was a major championship, you wouldn’t have guessed it from the telecast. Add in the oodles of commercials, and the action was very hard to follow, much less get invested in. Let’s hope things improve over the weekend.
There may be limited fans at Torrey Pines this week, but there are still long lines at the beverage stand. Good luck getting a drink out there, folks!
Live drone footage of No. 3 was a highlight of the generally abysmal first-round coverage of the U.S. Open.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
The Cheesesteak – Registrations for our event at Rolling Green Golf Club outside of Philadelphia close on Sunday. Make sure to reserve your spot soon if you’d like to join us!
On This Week’s Parking Lot – The South Course at Torrey Pines gets all the attention, but the North Course offers a more affordable, less exacting stroll along the Pacific Ocean. Contributor Jay Rigdon fondly recalls his twilight round at this week’s parking lot.
Openness – There’s almost always a breakout player at the U.S. Open, but we don’t always know it until a few years later. Andy Johnson reflects on the careers that U.S. Open qualifying has launched.
Shotgun Start: Thursday at the U.S. Open: Torrey, Telecasts, and Richard Bland
This episode is a quick reaction to day one at the U.S. Open, with only one mic turned on for it. Brendan and Andy jump into what felt like an uneven day, often boring and frustrating but sprinkled with bursts of intrigue. Did anything happen that changed their notions of how this would be before Thursday’s action? Brendan compares it to a big time neutral site college football game. They discuss the 13th hole and the valley that gobbled up Bryson’s ball in a sand-filled divot. There’s a debate about other major venues whose entire identities are more or less wrapped up in one historic moment. There are some harsh words on the telecast making it feel like a regular season event. The lack of hang-gliders, prevalence of planes, and potential plaque impacts are also covered. Rory’s round is hailed, as is Brooksy’s opening salvo. And of course, Dick Bland’s chances are reassessed, as is his Coetzee Zone card. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
We know the U.S. Open is out in California, but many folks requested more of the PGA Championship-inspired Shotgun Start t-shirts, so here you go!