by Jeff Skinner
It was billed as the Marquee Group. It should have been called the ‘Marquis de Sade Group’ because it was downright painful watching them, well at least two thirds of them anyway.
The USGA teamed Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson together for the first two days in hopes that this group would give the fans a spectacular day of shot making and get the 112th U.S. Open off to an electrifying start. Well, maybe we’ll get that tomorrow because today’s performance was certainly not worthy of headlining the “toughest test in golf.”
Tiger Woods was the only player to hold up his end of the deal with a very good round of one under par and a tie for second behind Michael Thompson (-4) when he finished his round. Woods’ game looked sharp as he hit 10 of these difficult fairways. Early in his round a few putts just slid by the hole or he would have threatened for the lead. He looked confident all day despite a few approaches coming up short and missing some greens.
His playing partners spent most of the morning looking for their wayward tee shots as Phil and Bubba struggled to find the short grass all day. Mickelson got off to a horrendous start (on the 9th) when his opening tee ball went way right and was never seen again. After a futile search, he took the lonely walk back to the tee to hit another. But an excellent approach left him a short bogey putt and making a bogey after that start was like stealing a shot. He made the bogey and was ready to shake off the nasty start, but his clubs wouldn’t cooperate.
Phil continued his poor play with two more bogeys and could only garner a lone birdie on the 13th hole, his fifth hole of the day. After that he struggled to find fairways and greens and finished with seven bogeys to his single bird for a disappointing 76.
Bubba Watson had an even uglier day as he hit only five fairways, eight greens and his bomb and gouge style of play had a bit too much bomb and not enough gouge. 33 putts only added to his pain and a Grand Slam killing 78 may have Bubba on a plane back to Florida tomorrow.