On his last visit to Torrey Pines Golf Club for the Farmers Insurance Open over seven years ago, Russell Henley flopped full swing on the 18th to finish with a 79 and miss the cut by six strokes. No wonder he was in no real rush to come back.
“I don’t really remember [it] plus leaving the course feeling like you’ve been beaten, ”said Henley. “I played it that time and I really struggled and it was like, well, I won’t play it from now on. This may not be the best reason.
The Georgia native’s return to the city-owned oceanfront track for the first round of the US Open on Thursday went a little more favorably. After opening with a bogey, Henley, 32, made the two-under turn and added three birdies on the back nine for a 67 of four under par and a one-stroke lead over Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera Bello. .
The starting goal almost held during the afternoon wave until Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, joined him at the top of the standings until his round was suspended for cause. darkness with two holes to play.
Among the five players, two strokes behind the co-leaders were two-time US Open champion Brooks Koepka, San Diego native and crowd favorite Xander Scheatele, defending Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, and Jon Rahm, third, which largely lived up to the billing of punters. as a pre-tournament favorite in his first round since being forced to withdraw from the Memorial last month due to a positive coronavirus test while leading by six strokes after 54 holes.
The first round won’t be completed until Friday due to the thick layer of fog that formed off the Pacific Ocean at dawn, delaying the start of Thursday by an hour and a half. The dense marine layer enveloped the course and made it unplayable, causing a delay of 15 minutes after another as the 150 or so spectators dot the grandstand surrounding the first tee-shirt entering and exiting the gallery.
The fog showed no signs of burning or emerging at sea for over an hour amid temperatures of 17 ° C (63 ° F) and humidity of 90% until it settled down. Eventually dispels enough for local player Sahith Theegala, grouped with Italy’s Edoardo Molinari and Greyson Sigg of the United States to finally hit a tee shot in the gray morning in San Diego at 8:15 am.
The first foggy delay to a US Open since 2004 at Shinnecock Hills pushed scheduled tee times to 2:42 p.m. to 4:12 p.m., causing the action to stop at around 8 p.m. with 36 players remaining on the course. A navy layer also delayed play in 2000 at Pebble Beach, where Tiger Woods claimed the victory by a record 15 strokes over Ernie Els and Miguel Ángel Jiménez in the most dominant performance in major league history.
The morning gloom quickly gave way to a sunny afternoon on the southern par 71 course, which hosts the U.S. National Championship for the first time since Woods’ famous triumph in 2008, with Bryson DeChambeau trying to defend his title and his local hero. Phil Mickelson attempting to become the sixth player to complete a career Grand Slam in the major tournament that has caused him so much agony over the years.
Mickelson’s offer got off to a rocky start as the sixth finalist at the US Open, who turned 51 on Wednesday and needed a special entry exemption ahead of last month’s historic win at the US PGA Championship , was repeatedly out of position. off the tee and had three bogeys in his first six holes and two more late to finish with a four of 75.
At one point, Mickelson was forced to roll back his second shot multiple times on the 613-yard 13th hole as a spectator’s phone repeatedly rang. He then fired a shot through the bushes, before asking the fan, “I don’t understand why you just can’t turn that little button on the side into a silencer.” “
“I fought hard throughout the tour,” said Mickelson, who became the oldest player to win a major tournament last month at Kiawah. “I wasn’t really going to do anything and I fought really hard and then let two bogeys slide out of six and seven when I really shouldn’t have. “
DeChambeau, who won his first major at last year’s US Open at Winged Foot, spent much of the opening day of his title defense in the dense and punishing rough, needing two birdies on the last five holes to escape with a double of 73.
The USGA presents its flagship event as the toughest test in golf and the narrow fairways, dense, glassy greens that made up the configuration of the 7,652-yard south course – the eighth longest track in major league history – followed what has become a familiar recipe. Mickelson was hardly the only big name to give way under his rigor Thursday.
Former US Open champions Webb Simpson (79), Justin Rose (79), Martin Kaymer (77) and Jordan Spieth (77) were among household names near the bottom of the standings, with the winner of the PGA Championship from the last year Collin Morikawa (75) is not doing much better. Max Homa, grouped with Mickelson and Sc Chaudele in a trio of players from Southern California that drew large crowds all morning, four 20-foot putts for triple bogey on the 12th and three putts for double bogey on the 14th to finish with a five- over 76.
Instead, the day belonged to Henley, who has won three tournaments since turning pro ten years ago, but has never finished in the top 10 in his 26 major tournament appearances.
“I feel like the last year I played golf, I felt like I was one of the top 50 players in the world. I had a ton of top 10. I was in contention, ”he said. “I feel like I’m still playing well. That’s not to say I’m definitely going to be doing it for the next three days, but I felt really comfortable there.