Open notebook

Monday at the U.S. Open
Jun. 09, 2014 @ 08:04 PM

Bubba draws a crowd
At least 500 people sat and stood around the green on No. 17 Monday morning to watch Bubba Watson, the 2012 and 2014 Masters champion, during his practice round. He was out with Aaron Baddeley and David Gossett. Watson’s tee shot from the 17th tee landed about eight feet from the cup, drawing a good round of applause from the gallery.

Watson has an interesting record in U.S. Opens. He finished tied for fifth at the 2007 Open at Oakmont Country Club in Plum, Penn. (where Angel Cabrera won), but that’s his best finish in seven tries. He finished tied for 18th in 2009, tied for 32nd last year, tied for 63rd in 2011 and missed the cut three times, including right after his first Masters win in 2012.

Now a multiple major winner and arguably one of the PGA Tour’s most popular players, Watson likely will have quite a following this week in Pinehurst.

Major tournament mark-ups
A trip to the concession stand at this week’s tournament will cost you more than list price for your normal chicken sandwich, hot dog or soda.

Some of the food items available, with U.S. Open prices coupled with normal price. Chick-fil-a chicken sandwich: $6/$3.05. Chick-fil-a “waffle chips”: $2.50/$1.65 (medium). 1/3 lb cheesburger: $7.50/$3.89 (Hardee’s). Candy bar: $2/$1 (your local vending machine). Bagels: $3/$1.34 (Panera’s blueberry bagel). Chick-fil-a fresh fruit: $1.50/$1.79 (small fruit cup).

One question: What gives on the fruit?

From the tips
Pinehurst No. 2 is playing over 7,500 yards for the U.S. Open, some 300 yards longer than it did in 1999 and 2005.

The 529-yard par 4! No. 4 and the 219-yard par3 No. 6 tees practically merge, facing opposite directions, and practice groups had to wait for one group to play away when players were on both tees.

Practice routine
Most players got practice rounds in during the morning Monday, but some went out in the afternoon heat. On the 219-yard No. 6, Dustin Johnson, Andrew Dorn and Patrick Reed each hit multiple tee shots, then did even more around and on the green.

Johnson hit four shots out of the left greenside bunker, then dropped a few balls in a grass bunker on the other side of the green.

Dorn, last summer's North and South Amateur Championship winner and still an amateur from West Chester, Ohio who got in the field as an alternate, practiced many putts from well in front of the green, as far as 20-25 yards back out in the fairway.

Reed did the same from the fairway in front of the green and beyond the green in tightly-mown areas.

The threesome used water bottles as holes, guessing where the four tournament pin placements will be and spending time reading those areas instead of where the actual pin was Monday.


Practice pairings
Looking at the practice round pairings can be a fun activity in perhaps trying to string together connections between the players. It’s often college or country which brings players to the same rounds.

* Former University of Texas golfers Justin Leonard, Jordan Spieth and Cody Gribble played a round with Kevin Sutherland Monday afternoon.

* Matt Jones, Aron Price and 2006 U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, all natives of Australia, played with Shiv Kapur.

* United Kingdom-born Lee Westwood (England) and Darren Clarke (Northern Ireland) teed off late afternoon.

* Sometimes you’ll see practice round groupings come together mid-day. South Africans Charl Schwartzel, 1997 U.S. Open champion Ernie Els and Brandon de Jonge were joined a few holes into the front nine by fellow countryman Louis Oosthuizen.

* Not many guys play by themselves in practice rounds, and some will switch into groups. Amateur Sam Love, originally listed as a solo act going off around 1:30 p.m., played with three other players at 1:36 p.m.

Just a quote
"Yeah, David Gossett and company is my sponsor."

- David Gossett, who's in is first U.S. Open since 2000 and hasn't played a or PGA Tour event this year, to a question about if he has any sponsors helping him keep his pro tour career going.

Just 2 quotes
“It’s a place where, if I had two rounds left of golf left in my life, I’d come here to play, just because of the village and the atmosphere and the golf course.”

“If I had a week to live, I’d come to Pinehurst and play golf.”

- Curtis Strange, the 1988 and 1989 U.S. Open champion, the last back-to-back open champion


Open anniversaries
PINEHURST (AP) — A look at some of the anniversaries at the US Open this year:

100 years ago (1914): Walter Hagen tied for fourth in his U.S. Open debut, though no one paid much attention for good reason — that was 1913, the year Francis Ouimet stunned Britain's best to win at Brookline. A year later, Hagen set the U.S. Open record with a 68 in the opening round at Midlothian Country Club and went wire to wire, defeating amateur Chick Evans by one shot. It was the first of his 11 major championships.

50 years ago (1964): Ken Venturi was six shots behind going into the 36-hole final day at Congressional, where he faced Tommy Jacobs and oppressive heat. Venturi shot 66 in the third round, but felt so weak during the break doctors suggested his playing another 18 holes could be fatal. Ventrui closed with a 70 for a four-shot victory. He was so overcome by heat he couldn't read the numbers on his card. The USGA executive director looked over his shoulder, checked the card and told him to sign it.

25 years ago (1989): Ben Hogan's mystique included his back-to-back U.S. Open titles in 1950 and 1951. No one did it again until Curtis Strange won at Oak Hill. Strange took the lead with a 64 in the second round, only to follow with a 73 and fall three shots behind Tom Kite. Kite stumbled in the final round, and Strange closed with a 70 for a one-shot win. It remains the last time anyone has won consecutive U.S. Opens.

20 years ago (1994): The nostalgia of Arnold Palmer playing his last U.S. Open, and Tom Watson leading Jack Nicklaus by one shot after the opening round, eventually gave way to a new star in golf. Ernie Els, a 24-year-old South African, defeated Colin Montgomerie and Loren Roberts, needing 20 holes to defeat Roberts, in a Monday playoff.

10 years ago (2004): Fresh off his Masters win for his first major, Phil Mickelson was poised to win the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills until he ran into Retief Goosen's remarkable putting. Goosen one-putted the final six greens for a 1-over 71 and a two-shot victory. Mickelson was tied for the lead until a three-putt double bogey from 5 feet on the 17th hole.

From the wire
From Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open champ at Winged Foot, in an interview with the Associated Press, “Someone could put you in the perfect place off every tee and it’s still one of the hardest courses you’ve ever played.”