University Place, Wash. — Count Rory McIlroy among those who failed to figure out the bumpy, bouncy speed of the greens of Chambers Bay on the first day of the U.S. Open.
“It was frustrating, especially how I felt I hit the ball from tee to green,” McIlroy said after shooting a 2-over 72 in the first round Thursday. “I thought I drove the ball great, I thought I hit my iron shots very, very well. … I felt like I gave myself enough chances out there to convert a few and then had a couple of (shorter) putts on the last few holes there.
“I definitely thought it was a day where you could shoot under par, and I didn’t take advantage of that.”
The No. 1 player in the world went off during the morning wave, and despite starting on the easier back nine, could not capitalize on nearly perfect conditions with overcast skies and little wind coming off Puget Sound. McIlroy made two birdies and two bogeys on his first nine holes, then closed his round with birdies on two of his final three and a par on the par 5 8th.
Even though McIlroy wasn’t perfect from tee to green, hitting 10-of-14 fairways and 12-of-18 greens, he felt it was an improvement from the way he was playing leading into the U.S. Open.
“I take confidence with the way I was striking the ball out there because that’s the way I’ve been hitting it in practice,” McIlroy said. “So to be able to take that from practice onto the course is really good.
“But as I said, I can hit it like that all day but if I can’t hole the putts it doesn’t matter. That’s where I need to work on a few things.”
Slow play irks Watson
Bubba Watson insists he wasn’t perturbed by the pace of play.
Known for his rather short temper, Watson had to wait to hit his approach shot to No. 18 during the first round. When he went left, he muttered loud enough for the cameras: “Waiting 30 minutes. This is pathetic.”
Pace of play has been a concern at Chambers Bay because of the rugged terrain and long walks between greens and tees.
Watson still shot par 70.
Rough course for caddies
Henrik Stenson’s caddie had one goal at the U.S. Open this week: Don’t fall.
Now he’s walking around with a cast on his wrist.
The treacherous terrain got the best of Gareth Lord during a practice round Wednesday when he fell on the 16th tee box. Lord wound up getting his wrist trapped under the bag, and Stenson said “it might be broken and stuff in there, or just torn ligaments and stuff.”
Lord spent a couple hours in the emergency room but still wanted to work Thursday.
Lord wasn’t the only casualty. Stenson said that StephenGallacher’s caddie, Damian Moore, went down a short while later. Moore wound up hurting his ankle.
Player gloomy about game
Gary Player offered some sobering words on the state of golf .
The nine-time major winner said the game is in “dire straits.”
Player reflected “we’re getting less and less players, you can buy a course for a dollar if you take over the debt — which nobody does. We’re desperately running out of water.”
The 1965 U.S. Open champion went on to talk about the cost of the game, the use of fertilizers and their environmental effects, even the price of machinery to keep courses pristine.