Thursday, June 12, 2008

Early surprises at the U.S. Open

There were two immediate surprises Thursday morning when Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott met on the first tee at Torrey Pines to begin play in the U.S. Open.

The first was that Woods would double-bogey the relatively benign opening hole, hardly the way he imagined starting. He yanked his tee shot into thick rough left of the fairway, hacked it back to the short grass, hit a short wedge shot over the green into more thick stuff then missed an 8-foot bogey putt.

Easy six.

It is not Woods’ worst start in a major. He triple-bogeyed the opening hole in the 2003 British Open at Royal St. Georges.

Woods, however, quickly righted himself and made the turn at 1-under par, looking increasingly like the guy to beat again.

The second surprise was the fact that Mickelson chose to play the first round without a driver in his bag.

He had a fairway wood and a hybrid but no big stick on the longest course in major championship history.

Perhaps he was just trying to level things out after playing the Masters in 2006 with two drivers.

The absence of a driver became noticeable on the 515-yard par-4 sixth hole where Lefty was 50 yards behind his playing partners off the tee. He made a bogey five there, the first of three straight bogeys.

For all the questions about whether Tiger would be sharp, it was Mickelson who – at least through the first nine holes – looked off his game.