Thursday, 21 February, 2019

Wind-blown Shinnecock does a number on U.S. Open field

Kristopher Love | 16 June, 2018, 22:57

"I've still got to turn up and play well, and I've got to concentrate hole by hole". It was the statement of a man who knew there would be problems ahead on these long-grassed sandhills but who is playing with palpable confidence.

"Dustin was in complete control of what he's doing", Woods said.

Harold Varner, playing in his second major, finished the tournament at plus-14.

"If I would have putted [at Shinnecock] the way I did the beginning of the year with this ball striking, that would be ideal", he said.

The runaway victor of the St Jude Classic last week played at a heavily watered Country Club course that could hardly be further removed from this test, Johnson is showing the all-round skills that make him such a worthy occupant of the world's top spot.

"I was anxious about running the (first) putt by, left it short, blocked the next one, then blocked it again", said Woods, who added another double at 14.

But whatever you do, don't bet on him to win.

In tough, windy conditions Woods got off to a terrible start with a triple-bogey seven at the first hole and later added a four-putt double at the par-four 13th.

Ryder, who originally hails from New Hampshire, has been caddying at Shinnecock for 18 years, and this was his first time caddying in the U.S. Open. "I'm not saying it's going to, but it could".

Fresh off a six-shot victory last week, Johnson managed all aspects of his game Thursday on a classic U.S. Open course that required nothing less.

Woods has won 14 major championships, and 79 PGA Tour events, but has not lifted a trophy in any tournament since 2013.

Ian Poulter unwinds on his follow-through on No. 12.

Two-time US Open champion Curtis Strange added: "He will feel some embarrassment because there are a lot of people and kids watching that really admire this guy". "I felt like it could have gone the other way and we could have been in this thing, but we're not". They were at 141, along with Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, each with a 70, and Poulter. That's the nature of the U.S. Open.

He made a double bogey on the first hole - scene of Thursday's opening triple - and also bogeyed the short second to plummet to 11 over. "You just keep putting the ball in play, hitting greens and try to sneak in a few birdies when you can". "For most of the day, I just didn't putt well". They have to hope that, at some point, he hits a bad shot and posts a big number that lets them back in it.

'I'll take that score and run, ' said Fleetwood, who played with the eventual champion Brooks Koepka in the final round past year. "In the last four tournaments, I have not putted well".

Said Justin Thomas, one of his playing partners for the first two rounds: "He pretty much has it all covered".