Starting out on No. 2

Jun. 15, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

On Donald Ross-designed courses all over America, which number over 400, there’s a common theme to the opening hole.

“Give the player a chance to warm up a bit,” Ross wrote.

Compared to so many of Pinehurst No. 2’s other par fours, the first hole is relatively simple.

Most players don’t hit driver as bunkers and a narrowing fairway come increasingly into play within about 130 yards of the green. Up to that point, with the hole set at 411 yards in Saturday’s third round of the U.S. Open Championship, the opening tee shot has a generous landing area and if the players hit it with an iron, a hybrid or a fairway wood, they have a straightforward approach.

Saturday’s pin placement negated part of the safety. The cup was tucked in the back, left corner, near a slope which took an iron which bounded a little too far back into grass bunkers, or which missed left into a sand trap.

Among the last seven pairings of the day, Henrik Stenson was the only player to make a three. His playing partner Matt Kuchar was the only to make five.

The rest, including the final two off for the third round, Martin Kaymer and Brendon Todd, made two of the 12 pars.

Stenson hit a fine approach a little below pin high, to about 15 feet, and rolled in his putt.

The pin placement allowed guys to hit the middle of the green, which most did, but have a 20-30 foot attempt from there.

Kuchar had his approach bound well through the green nearly to the base of the grandstand. From the “broken ground” he pitched to 20 feet by the hole, which was a fine result from his situation, but he couldn’t save par from there.

Kaymer was the only player of the 14 leaders to hit left of the pin yet end up in no danger. His second shot came to rest against the collar just by the left-side bunker. He narrowly missed his birdie putt.