US Open Round 1: ‘Mr. Mickelson, trouble calling on Line 1’

Jun 17, 2021, 12:03 PM | Updated: Jun 18, 2021, 12:29 am

By mid-afternoon, cell phones throughout the 858 area code were buzzing.

And buzzing.

The third time one went off in the gallery behind him, Phil Mickelson stepped away from his tee shot at No. 13 — for the second time — and tried to keep the steam from blowing out of both ears.

“Seriously?” he pleaded. “Can we get someone to help him?

Turns out Lefty could have used some help himself. He sent the ensuing drive into some rough stuff left of the fairway, made bogey there and signed for a 4-over 75 in the opening round of the fog-delayed U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. That left him eight shots behind surprise leader Russell Henley — and co-leader if Louis Oosthuizen is still 4-under after playing the remaining two holes of his opening round Friday morning.

Henley admitted surprising even himself. The last time he played the South Course, at the Farmers Insurance Open in 2014, he was 8 over through the first 15 holes and missed the cut by six shots.

“I don’t really remember,” he said, “besides leaving the course feeling like I just got beat up.”

A lot of players felt that way by day’s end. Brooks Koepka was not among them. The two-time champion lived up to his “Big Game” nickname, posting a 2-under 69 that was his sixth straight round in the 60s at the major tournament billed annually as golf’s toughest test.

“I think a lot of guys make it more difficult than it needs to be,” Koepka said. “Just got to understand where the flag is, what you’re doing and where to miss it.”

That was decidedly easier for the golfers who drew morning tee times. Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera Bella both managed to park 3-under 68s in the clubhouse before the winds picked up. By mid-afternoon, solid approach shots that landed just a few feet off-target wound up snarled in collars of thick rough ringing the greens or burrowed into sides of steep bunkers. Few of them handled the frustration with Koepka’s equanimity.

Former U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson stumbled home with a 79, but only because he birdied the last hole. Jordan Spieth shot 77. For others players, even reaching the greens was no guarantee of safe harbor. Max Homa four-puttied from 20 feet for triple bogey on No. 12 and three-putted for a double on No. 14 en route to a 76.

“There’s no tricks,” said Molinari, whose pandemic-delayed reunion with twin brother, Edoardo (1 under), was a smashing success. “You need to grind and fight for 18 holes and then relax until tomorrow and start over again.”

That will be easier for some rather than others. Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau had to play the final five holes in 2 under to salvage a 73. He won by overpowering Winged Foot last September, cutting corners with towering drives and carving short irons out of the rough.

Whether that style of play will be precise enough at Torrey Pines remains to be seen, but Rory McIlroy already sounded skeptical.

“I think as the course gets firmer, we just going to have to really dial it in,” he said after birding the 18th for a 1-under 70. “You might have 170 (yards) to a pin, but you’re really trying to land it like 160, 162. So it’s really about being aware of how firm the course is getting. We’ll just have to really concentrate on that.”

Roughly 40 players will wind up within four shots of the lead by the time Round 1 wraps, hardly surprising for a U.S. Open, where pars still come at a premium. But those with morning tee times were a lot more optimistic about their chances of staying in contention.

“Well, I’m looking forward to it,” said Jon Rahm, a pre-tournament favorite who shot 70 in the brisk afternoon winds. “Hopefully, it’s a little bit more moist greens in the morning, like they had today and we’ll be able to attack some of the pins, especially starting on the front nine.

“So hopefully, if it’s not too windy, and the weather conditions were like they were this morning,” he added, “we can get off to a good start and keep it going all day”



More AP golf: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


German players gather during a training session at the Al-Shamal stadium on the eve of the group E ...
Associated Press

Germany’s World Cup survival on the line against Spain

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — When the World Cup draw came out in April, one of the highlights of the group stage was Sunday’s Spain vs. Germany at Al Bayt Stadium. Eight months later, the game between the two former world champions and pre-tournament favorites gained even more prominence thanks to Germany’s surprising loss to Japan […]
1 day ago
Canada's head coach John Herdman talks with his team after their loss in the World Cup group F socc...
Associated Press

Herdman’s inspiration try at World Cup, provokes Croatia

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Canada had just lost its first World Cup match in 36 years, outplaying Belgium for much of a 1-0 defeat, and an emotional John Herdman revealed in the on-field interview what he had just told his players during a postgame huddle. “I told them they belong here. And we’re going to […]
1 day ago
FILE - Palestinian soccer fans wave Qatari and Palestinian flags as they watch a live broadcast of ...
Associated Press

Flashes of Arab unity at World Cup after years of discontent

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — For a brief moment after Saudi Arabia’s Salem Aldawsari fired a ball from just inside the penalty box into the back of the net to seal a World Cup win against Argentina, Arabs across the divided Middle East found something to celebrate. Such Arab unity is hard to come by and […]
1 day ago
Oregon center N'Faly Dante, right, shoots over Michigan State guard Pierre Brooks (1) and center Ma...
Associated Press

Hauser helps No. 12 Michigan State hold off Oregon 74-70

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Joey Hauser had 18 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 12 Michigan State hold off a strong challenge from Oregon to win 74-70 in the consolation round of the Phil Knight Invitational tournament Friday night. Tyson Walker added 18 points and eight assists for the Spartans (4-2), while Pierre Brooks […]
1 day ago
Gonzaga Purdue...
Associated Press

Zach Edey scores 23, No. 24 Purdue tops No. 6 Gonzaga 84-66

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Zach Edey and his Purdue teammates were admittedly too excited early on for the chance to compared themselves to one of the top teams in the country. Once the 24th-ranked Boilermakers calmed down, they showed they are worthy of their own consideration as a top team after a thorough 84-66 thumping […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Harrell’s 18 lead Texas State over Southern Utah 78-65

LAIE, Hawaii (AP) — Mason Harrell scored 18 points as Texas State beat Southern Utah 78-65 on Friday night at the North Shore Classic. Harrell shot 6 of 10 from the field and 6 for 6 from the line for the Bobcats (4-2). Brandon Davis scored 12 points while shooting 4 for 6, including 3 […]
1 day ago
US Open Round 1: ‘Mr. Mickelson, trouble calling on Line 1’