U.S. Open Week
June 20, 2010
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Graeme McDowell captured the 110th U.S. Open Championship in a battle that seemingly no one wanted to win. In doing so, McDowell became the first Northern Irishman to win the U.S. Open, and the first European in 40 years (Tony Jacklin in 1970 was the last) and only the third since 1925.
The champion started the day three-under and three back of third-round leader Dustin Johnson who stood at six-under-par for the championship. But Johnson, the back-to-back defending AT&T National Pro-Am champion known for his prodigious length, would self-destruct, losing six shots on holes 2-4 via a loose short game followed by a recalcitrant driver.
Johnson’s backwards march (he would ultimately shoot 82 in the final round, the worst round by a third-round leader since 1911) opened a door that no player wanted to go through. And the players chasing the leader included the world’s best two golfers – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, and two-time Open champ Ernie Els. The tournament’s theme became “Staying Alive,” producing an Open final round devoid of memorable shots but full of calamities. By the eighth hole, McDowell had taken a three-shot lead over the field and then held on, despite only making two birdies over the last 34 holes of competition.
“I just can’t believe how difficult this golf course was. I kept my head down pretty much until I bogeyed 10, had a little peek at the leader board to see what was going on and no one was going crazy,” the Portrush, Northern Ireland native said. “I couldn’t believe that. I really just tried to stay calm on the back nine and I really did. I did a great job of it.”
After carding an even-par front nine, McDowell played the back at three-over, including a costly four on Pebble’s penultimate hole, but was able to close the deal with a sold par on the 18th. Of the six players in the last three groups, no one broke par, and out of the top 10 on the leader board at the end of the tournament, only Matt Kuchar finished in red numbers for the day.
McDowell’s title doesn’t extend Pebble Beach’s Open legacy of identifying the dominant player of the era as past U.S. Opens at Pebble have done (Jack Nicklaus (’72), Tom Watson (’82), Tom Kite (’92) and Tiger Woods (’00)), but his victory is no accident or surprise. Earlier in June, the 30-year-old won the Celtic Manor Wales Open and was ranked 37th in the world ranking coming into the championship.
The five-time winner on the European Tour started his championship run with an even-par 71, two back of the lead. But it was his second-round, three-under 68 that propelled him toward the title. Ironically, his final-round 74, where all his bogeys occurred on the incoming nine, was his worst golf of the tournament.
Gregory Havret of France took second, one shot back of the champion while Els finished solo third and Woods and Mickelson shared fourth place. Woods bogeyed the first hole and would go on to bogey the short par-four 4th and drive it in to the water on the par-five 6th to take himself out of contention. After a birdie on the 1st, Mickelson would go the rest of the round without making a significant putt, losing three more strokes to par. After a front nine 33, Els seemed in the best shape to make a move, but a disastrous double bogey on the 10th stopped the South African’s momentum.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling right now, I have to say. It hasn’t really sunk in. I don’t think I’ve put this thing (the trophy) down since they gave it to me,” McDowell reflected after the round. “To win the U.S. Open here at Pebble Beach is a special feeling. The scenery here at Pebble, it’s a great way of taking your mind off what was going on. Anytime I felt nervous or felt myself getting ahead of myself I just had a look around and just took in the scenery and really just tried to use that to bring me back into the present. It’s just a special place to play golf.”
Defending champion Lucas Glover finished at +15 for the championship, with rounds of 77 and 76 over the weekend killing any chance he might have had. Tom Watson, granted a special exemption by the USGA, provided one of the best moments Sunday, finishing perhaps his final round in a U.S. Open in tears as the crowd gave him a hearty ovation.
Sacramento’s Erick Justesen finished the best of the three Northern Californians making the cut,his final round 73 allowing him to finish in 69th place at +17. Matt Bettencourt finished at +18 while Nick Watney turned in a four-round total of +21.
June 19, 2010
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Long-hitting Dustin Johnson put a firm grip in the 110th U.S. Open, grabbing a three-stroke lead heading into the final round Sunday at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
The Columbia, South Carolina native’s length is already somewhat of a legend on the PGA Tour, and the 25-year-old used his strength to card a one eagle, five birdie versus two-bogey 66. Johnson’s eagle came on the short par-4 fourth, where the tees had been moved up to entice players to go for the green.The back-to-back AT&T National Pro-Am champion (2009-2010) closed with birdies on 17 and 18 to create the extra space heading into Sunday. “This is what I live for, this is what I practice for – to win the U.S. Open,” he said after his round.
Though it is only Johnson’s third open, the three-time winner on the PGA Tour clearly has an affinity for Pebble Beach and the tools to capture his first major championship.
The other 66 on the day (the third round’s low score) came from none other than Tiger Woods. The three-time Open champion kicked away two bogeys in the first three holes before catching fire and looking remarkably like the Tiger Woods of 2000, posting eight birdies in the last 15 holes to close within five shots of Johnson. Second round leader Graeme McDowell struggled toward the end of his round but is holding onto second place, three back of the leader.
Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson are both still in contention, but at six back and seven behind respectively, will have to go low and need some help to win.
Northern Californians Matt Bettencourt, Nick Watney and Erick Justesen all lost ground on the leaderboard, with Bettencourt in the best shape at +10, Watney +11 and Justesen at +15.
June 18, 2010
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell fired a three-under 68 to assume a two-shot lead at the mid-point of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach but the story of the day was Phil Mickelson’s brilliant five-under 66 that propelled him to within two strokes.
A blazing hot, four-birdies-within-the-first-six-holes start gave the Masters champion the momentum he needed card the low round of the championship thus far. Ernie Els also played his way back into the hunt, posting a smooth 68 to leave him two back. Other competitors in the hunt include back-to-back AT&T National Pro-Am champion Dustin Johnson and 18-year-old Japanese sensation Ryo Ishikawa.
Three-time champion Tiger Woods improved on his opening round by two strokes after finally making three birdies today, but still finds himself four over and seven shots back. Defending champion Lucas Glover is also seven back.
Northern Californians Matt Bettencourt (Alameda), Nick Watney (Fresno) and Erick Justesen (Sacramento) made the cut in their (almost) hometown Open, Bettencourt at +4, Watney at +5 and Justesen at +6.
Going into his final home, Pebble’s 9th, McDowell stood at -4. A bogey on his last great impacted the U.S. Open’s traditional cut – the low 60 scores plus ties and anyone within 10 shots of the lead. McDowell’s -3 finish let in anyone posting +7 (149) after the two rounds. That means 83 players – 81 professionals and two amateurs – will compete over the weekend for the coveted title beginning at 9:00 a.m. Saturday.
Photo Gallery – Friday
June 17, 2010
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Shaun Micheel, Paul Casey and Brendon De jonge have established a one-stroke lead after the opening round of the U.S. Open.
Micheel, the 2003 PGA champion at Oak Hill, is the only one of the three with major championship pedigree though Casey has played on several Ryder Cup teams. De jonege had perhaps the shot of the day, holing on from the 14th fairway for eagle.
In picture-perfect weather, the “Beach” bared its fangs, its greens clearly confounding the world’s best players as there were only three scores in the 60s and only nine scores under par.
Notable Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are five and six strokes back respectively; incredible, neither player made a birdie on their round.. Defending champion Lucas Glover is four back after carding a two-over 73. Other major winners in the hunt include Mike Weir (2003 Masters) at one back and David Toms (2001 PGA) at two back. Former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk, Masters champion Zack Johnson and British Open winner Justin Leonard are all two strokes back.
Northern Californians excelling in the first round include two-time NCGA player of the year Matt Bettencourt (2001-2002), who is three back and Sacramento U.S. Open sectional qualifying medalist Eric Justesen who is five back after a round that featured five birdies.
Starting times for the second round commence at 7:00 a.m. Friday. At the conclusion of the round, there is a cut to the players with the low 60 scores plus ties and anyone within 10 strokes of the lead for the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday.
Photo Gallery – Thursday
June 16, 2010
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Wednesday Pebble Beach demonstrated that when it comes to a beauty pageant among U.S. Open venues, it’s no contest who would win the crown.
In chamber-of-commerce weather players completed final tune-ups for tomorrow’s first round of the Open. In the three formal practice round days and in the unofficial practice that occurred over last weekend, the competitive field has faced just about every weather condition Pebble will throw at them with the exception of high wind. Since wind is generally an issue in the afternoon, look for lower scoring in the morning rounds over the next two days.
The big news of the day was the USGA’s announcement that Pebble Beach would return as host of the Open for the sixth time in 2019 in celebration of the course’s 100 anniversary. Pebble will also host the 2018 U.S. Amateur which reflects the first USGA championship the resort hosted, the 1929 U.S. Amateur. The Association also tabbed Erin Hills in Wisconsin as host of the 2017 Open.
“As (Pebble Beach CEO) Bill Perocchi said this weekend in our discussions…’you celebrated our 100th U.S. Open here at Pebble Beach (in 2000), come celebrate our 100th anniversary with us,” said Tom O’Toole, chairman of the USGA’s championship committee. “The magic of Pebble Beach and its treasured history, and all the memorable U.S. Opens that we’ve had here. And to be able to….make this announcement right now, as we are on the eve of our 5th U.S. Open here, we felt was magical.”
Photo Gallery – Wednesday
June 15, 2010
Pebble Beach Golf Links
Tuesday marked the second day of practice rounds for the national open, as well as press conferences for many of the top players.
The practice range was also a beehive of activity, as most of the field spent time ironing out kinks at Pebble’s crowded range. Tiger Woods played a practice round with fellow Stanford alum and sectional qualifier Joseph Bramlett (who only graduated Sunday). “It was great to see him healthy again. He’s such a great kid,” Woods said in reference to the 2005 State Amateur finalist. Bramlett had battled a wrist injury on an off for a couple of years before making a full recovery his senior year. Bramlett was accompanied by Stanford coach Conrad Ray who was a teammate of Woods’ at Stanford in the 90s.
In his press conference, Woods noted that he’d “probably hit just a handful of drivers out here. The course is getting so fast. The wind has a lot to do with it.”
Master’s champion Phil Mickelson played his practice round starting off the 10th hole, as for the first time at a Pebble open, both tees will be utilized during the first two rounds. “This is the best U.S. Open set-up I’ve seen. A lot of the course changes have been exceptional,” the San Diego native said. Mickelson celebrates his 40th birthday this week but noted that his best golf is still in front on him and also called Woods’ epic win in 2000 “the greatest performance I’ve ever seen in the game…the best ball‑striking and the best putting tournament that’s ever been performed.”
Many of the questions focused on his runner-up finish in the Open five times in the last 11 years and how his career would be remembered, as a major champion or someone who couldn’t win the Open. Mickelson replied:
“You could say that about any player about some tournament. Nicklaus never won in Canada (laughter). I mean, come on. We could talk about Arnold not winning a PGA, I’d rather talk about the four Masters he won, or the win he had at Cherry Hills or what he did at Birkdale. He’s done so many great things, I like to look at that. Sure, the pessimist is going to look at all the things he hasn’t done or I haven’t done or anything else, but I don’t choose to look at my career or anybody else’s that way.”
Photo Gallery – Tuesday
June 14, 2010
Bayonet/Black Horse GC
SEASIDE – The 10th annual U.S. Open Junior Day attracted more than 800 kids from Northern California golf programs, youth service agencies and schools to Bayonet and Black Horse Golf Club in Seaside, California, a short drive north from Pebble Beach Golf Links.
What has become an annual tradition, the U.S. Open Junior Day is designed to kick off U.S. Open Championship week. The event featured exhibitions by defending Open champion Lucas Glover and trick-shot artist Ben Witter, who shared his story of overcoming cancer to achieve his dream of becoming a pro golfer.
Participants were welcomed by Dick Fitzgerald, host facility Bayonet and Black Horse’s managing director, and NCGA Foundation Executive Director Adam Heieck, who informed the gathering that Monday had been declared Junior Golf Day in California by the State of California legislature, part of the larger “California Golf Week” that honors golf in the Golden State.
During Glover’s demonstration, the U.S. Open champion’s fitness coach, Randy Myers, and swing coach, Mike Taylor, guided the Clemson alum through a stretching and swing warm-up. Afterwards, Mark Wishner of Sun SafeTee discussed the importance of protection from UV rays and the importance of regular application of sunscreen.
Fifteen organizations from Northern California participated in Junior Day which concluded with stations designed to let kids chip, putt and hit full shots on the range as well as get their picture taken with the U.S. Open trophy. All participants also received complimentary tickets for the day’s U.S. Open practice round and were shuttled over to Pebble Beach for the afternoon.
“Hosting Junior Day is a wonderful way for the USGA to kick off U.S. Open week, our biggest week of the year,” said USGA president Jim Hyler. “The USGA makes significant investments in supporting affordable and accessible golf opportunities for young people and it is encouraging to see so many youngsters interested in the game of golf. We are pleased that they could join us for this special day, along with the dedicated program directors and volunteers who make it all happen.”
“We’re thrilled to be part of U.S. Open Junior Day. The majority of the participants are part of our Youth on Course program and we appreciate the support of the USGA,” said the NCGA Foundation’s Adam Heieck.
Through the USGA’s “For the Good of the Game” Grants Initiative, programs in the state that target underserved populations have received 210 grants totaling more than $5.1 million since 1997. In Northern California alone, the USGA has provided 42 grants totaling $1.9 million. The greater Northern California area is home to some of the nation’s finest junior golf programs, including Youth on Course operated by the Northern California Golf Association Foundation, which benefits participants in many programs throughout the region.
Bayonet and Blackhorse Golf Courses generously made its facility available for Junior Day and donated a variety of items, including lunch for all attendees.
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