Thursday, June 12, 2008

Winners, losers after Open's first round


-The working man: How else do you explain the presence of Kevin Streelman and Justin Hicks atop the leader board after 18 holes? Would you know either one of them if they pulled up a chair beside you?

The Open, of course, is sprinkled with guys who have been one-day wonders and they may fall into that category by Friday evening. But Thursday, they were better than everyone else.

-Ernie Els: He’s not a guy I figured had much of a shot in this Open, given the way his form has been. He’s traded mental coaches again, has changed his schedule back and forth a couple of times and seems unsettled.

But the Big Easy shot 70 in the first round and has a chance to build on that in the morning wave Friday. He knows how to win the U.S. Open, but it’ll take three more rounds.

-The course set-up: As promised, USGA officials played with the tee positions, shaving nearly 200 yards off Torrey Pines’ maximum distance. They’re likely to do the same thing today, though the adjustments might come on different holes.

Amazingly, no one has yet said this course set-up is too difficult.


-Defending champion Angel Cabrera: Maybe he should take up smoking again. Cabrera shot 43 on the front nine Thursday to shoot himself out of the tournament with an opening 79.

-Steve Stricker: He’s been mired in an ugly slump, missing four straight cuts and losing the edge that catapulted him to third in the world rankings late last year. He was leading for a time Thursday morning, shooting 4-under par on his first nine holes, but he followed that by shooting 41 on his second nine to wind up with a disappointing 73.

-Driver companies: Will Phil Mickelson start a trend by playing without a driver? Doubtful, unless the average Joe starts hitting 3-woods 280 yards.