Tag:open thursday
Posted on: June 16, 2011 4:55 pm

McDowell forks over trophy, wants to win it back

BETHESDA, Md. -- He said it's like a weight has been removed from his shoulders.

Not to mention what it's done for the reduction of weight in his luggage on road trips.

After making several trips abroad with Graeme McDowell over the past 12 months, the Northern Irishman two weeks ago had to return the championship triophy he won for claiming the U.S. Open last summer.

His tenure as the national champ ended this week, and in a way, it was marked by a sigh of relief. No offense, but McDowell said he's spent months talking about his 2010 season, possibly to the detriment of his current campaign.

The metal case has been returned to the host USGA. McDowell is now looking forward to adding more major-championship chrome.

McDowell, who has had an unusual spring, to say the least, shot a 1-under 70 in the first round at Congressional Country Club on Thursday and reeled off 12 straight pars in one stretch.

After a winless and spotty spring that has included three scores of 79 or higher on two tours, his lone bogey Thursday came on the first hole.

"I'm pretty happy, very happy," McDowell said. "I drove the ball beautifully. You have to play from the fairway to have a chance."

For sure. A guy can't point toward the future if he can't see the road ahead.

"I have really enjoyed the past 12 months," he said. "But we do a lot of talking about the past in this game. I am looking forward to the weekend and what the future might hold."

Weekends have been spotty of late. He blew up in the third round of his title defense at the Wales Open last month, and skied to a 79 after claiming the 54-hole lead at the Players Championship.

After making a bogey on his opening hole, he snapped to attention, however.

"Sometimes a bogey can get your attention, slap you in the face early in the morning," he said. "I parred this place to death on the back nine."

With 54 more holes of that, he might be holding that same trophy overhead again on Sunday.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 16, 2011 3:57 pm

Hilton Head revival draws applause at Open

BETHESDA, Md. -- Player after player walked off the course at Congressional Country Club on Thursday and expressed exasperation and relief.

Then they got some good news about a venue that is held in slightly less critical esteem.

The PGA Tour announced Thursday that it had secured a sponsor for the Hilton Head event, which was operated this year without any naming-rights underpinnings.

Players in the U.S. Open field who have played the famous Pete Dye design where the event is based, Harbour Town, were over the moon to hear it won't be mothballed after all. The Royal Bank of Canada signed up as sponsor.

"We had our fingers crossed that somebody came through and I'm glad it happened," said former winner Brian Gay. "It's not just for the players, but kids and whole families. It's a resort town, there's lots to do. And it's a great golf course."

It got a ringing endorsement from world No. 1 Luke Donald, who has a sponsorship deal with RBC and finished second there this spring.

"I love Hilton Head, I think it's a great course, one of the classics," he said.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 16, 2011 3:43 pm
Edited on: June 17, 2011 11:06 am

Reavie has plenty to gain just by staying close

BETHESDA, Md. -- Chez Reavie is in an interesting position.

Which isn't to suggest that it's an enviable one.

Reavie, who lost his full PGA Tour status two weeks ago, will be playing the rest of the season out of a lesser eligibility category, pretty much regardless of what happens this week, outside of winning.

But if he makes a splash this week at the U.S. Open, maybe he's attract some eyeballs of guys who make decisions at PGA Tour events later this year.

"I have a feeling that if I do something memorable this week, it will be a lot easier to get sponsor exemptions," he said. "The more I  get my name out there, the better."

No argument here.

Reavie, a former Canadian Open winner, missed most of last year after having reconstructive surgery on his right knee last June 1 and was playing this year on a medical extension. Coupled with his money earned last year before the surgery, he had 13 tournament starts in which to bring home the equivalent of the No. 125 figure from last year, or $786,977.

He fell $216,772 short in his last crack, two weeks ago at the Memorial Tournament. Consequently, he figures he might get another six starts this year, barring a huge move this week.

So far, so good. Reavie opened with a 1-under 71 that left him firmly in the top 10 after the morning wave finished play at Congressional Country Club.

Reavie, 29 and a former U.S. Public Links champion, admitted that he had been obsessing over the dollar earnings for months before he realized it was hurting his play.

"It was definitely stressful at first, because I let it be distracting," he said. "Halfway though I rearranged my thinking and began concentrating on golf."

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 16, 2011 3:17 pm
Edited on: June 16, 2011 3:28 pm

Watson blows lead, blows off inquisitors

BETHESDA, Md. -- The name of the eye-rolling, boy-band video spoof that Bubba Watson and three American pals filmed and released this week is entitled, "Oh, oh, oh."

That's also the thrust of what he uttered as he bogeyed the last three holes of the first round of the 111st U.S. Open on Thursday, dropping out of a tie for first and finishing with an even-par 71.

Watson, one of two players with a pair of PGA Tour victories this season and one of the pre-tournament favorites, was hardly in a goofy, playful mood after signing his card.

Approached in the locker room, the exchange with reporters was downright awkward, if not terse. In fact, it morphed into something akin to "No, no, no."

Reporter: "Bubba, do you have a second to talk?"

Watson: "If you can't say anything good, don't say it."

Reporter: "How about the video?"

Watson: "Nope."

Reporter: "Do you want to talk about going to the White House last night?"

Watson: ''Definitely don't want to talk about that.''

Reporter: "Why, was it bad?"

Watson: (No response).

Watson, who was wearing camouflage-patterned pants Thursday, then put on a pair of lime-green Crocs and left the locker room.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 16, 2011 10:58 am

Don't play Congressional back-to-front

BETHESDA, Md. -- To a man, everybody predicted it.

It has already come to pass.

If there's to be a theme this week at Congressional, it's that players better make a move on the front nine, then hold on for dear life coming hom.

With the morning wave halfway through the first round, the 10 players atop the scoreboard all played the front nine first, all of them at par or better.

Put another way, nobody playing the back nine first -- it has one fewer par-5 hole and a brutal finishing stretch -- is on the leaderboard.

Somehow, when Stewart Cink and Luke Donald each began the day with birdies at Nos. 10 and 11, both difficult holes, it didn't seem likely to last. Before he finished his opening nine off the back, Donald had skied to 2 over and Cink had fallen back to even.

The course was set up at 7,514 yards for the first round.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 16, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: June 16, 2011 10:40 am

Back nine start puts Open players on backside

BETHESDA, Md. -- As if the U.S. Open isn’t daunting enough, doesn’t cause enough throat constriction, each of the 156 players in the field this week will start one of their first two rounds with a downright frightening tee shot.

Using split tees, the 10th hole at Congressional Country Club is a 220-yard par-3 with a forced carry over a lake. Imagine facing t hat as your opening shot at, say, 8 a.m. in the first round.

That's exactly what the top three players in the world were presented with on Thursday, when Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer teed off at 8:06 a.m. ET.

The hole, playing 199 yards in the first round, has already taken a significant toll. In five of the first six groups to play the hole, at least one player dunked a ball in the water. The group that played it immediately before the top-three trio rinsed two balls, with Anthony Kim and Ryo Ishikawa making double-bogeys to star their week.

Guess that's why Congressional named it the Blue Course?

Players were actively bag-hawking one another on the tee, trying to pick the best iron to hit, because landing short was clearly not an option.

"It was a 4-, 5- or 6-iron, depending on the player," Westwood said as he walked toward the green. "I think we each hit different clubs."

Donald and Kaymer both birdied the hole to immediately pick up a shot on the field, easily.

Despite the carnage, they were running pretty close to on time. The Donald threesome teed off three minutes behind its scheduled time.

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