Thursday, day 4 at the U.S. Open
Fowler honors Stewart
Rickie Fowler paid tribute to the late Payne Stewart Thursday with his attire. He wore knickers, a common sight a long time ago in golf but made popular in the last 20 years or so by Stewart, who won the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.
“Payne was one of my all-time favorite players,” Fowler said. “I never had a chance of meeting him, but obviously loved watching him play and loved how he handled himself on and off the golf course. Cool to be in the position I’m in to wear some attire like he used to wear, to give tribute to him.”
He said it was planned a couple months in advance, but it was a one-day event. He’ll be back to his usual wardrobe, often very colorful, today.
No. 4 at No. 2
The fourth hole, a par five renovated and restored into a 529-yard par four, was a main focus of the course - and it playing at a par 70 - heading into Thursday's first round.
Two players in the first threesome out in the morning - out of Daniel Berger, Brett Stegmaier and Cameron Wilson - hit the green in regulation.
A couple groups later, Matt Every, Roberto Castro and Matt Jones all missed the green with their second shots before each saving par. Jones did from the left greenside bunker and Castro made four from the sand short and right of the green.
Jason Day, who wound up carding a 73, made the first birdie of the championship, draining a downhill 20-foot birdie putt after hitting a fine shot to the middle of the green.
The fan-favorite group of Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell made No. 4 exciting. Simpson hit his drive on top of a dune well left of the fairway, put his second shot in the left-side sand, then spun an outstanding shot to two feet for a tap-in par.
McIlroy drilled a drive and nearly dunked his approach shot on the fly. He edged the cup from 12 feet to settle for four.
McDowell navigated tan, partly-sandy area down the right side before finding the short, right bunker and winding up making bogey - his only bogey with 15 pars, one birdie on No. 14 and one eagle on No. 5 in a two-under-par 68.
No. 6, a 219-yard par three where even the best in the world take a three and hurry to the No. 7 tee, was one of the favorite areas of Pinehurst No. 2 turned into a steady stadium from early in the morning throughout the day Thursday.
It makes added sense as, from the No. 6 grandstands by the tee box, the gallery can see action on the No. 3 green, No. 4 tee and No. 5 green as well.
Also on No. 6
"I hit a good shot. I hit the green on 6, just a tough putt. You hit it a little hard and I putted it into the bunker. So you got to be a little careful. I didn't really think too much about it."
- Henrik Norlander
What Rory said (about Graeme McDowell)
"G-Mac (Graeme McDowell) didn't start the best and made that eagle on five. And then, yeah, he gets the most out of it and misses it in the right places, has a really good short game, holes big momentum putts to keep his run going. He always seems to be able to make those. Yeah, this is his ideal sort of tournament, you know, grinding it out, and the winning score not being too much under par and he knows how to do that well.
- Rory McIlroy
Some U.S. Open history
* This is the 114th U.S. Open Championship. The U.S. Open, which was first played in 1895, was not contested for two years (1917-18) during World War I and for four years (1942-45) during World War II. The youngest winner of the U.S. Open was 19-year-old John McDermott, who won in 1911. The oldest winner is Hale Irwin, who was 45 and playing on a special exemption when he won his third U.S. Open title in 1990. Irwin also won in 1974 and 1979.
* Only five players have won the Masters and the U.S. Open in the same year - Craig Wood in 1941, Ben Hogan in 1951 and 1953, Arnold Palmer in 1960, Jack Nicklaus in 1972 and Tiger Woods in 2002.
Taking advantage of the five
Of the four players who carded two-under par of better and were in the clubhouse - as of 7 p.m. with about 18 players still on the course - two eagled No. 5, a 576-yard par five and two birdied it.
Martin Kaymer and Brendon De Jonge made four. Kevin Na and
Graeme McDowell made eagles. Among all the players in red numbers, fours were more prevalent than fives.