June 12, 2008 7:00 PM PST–Torrey Pines–Other than Pebble Beach, and Torrey Pines might top it, there might not ever be another U.S. Open played in a prettier setting with better weather. The conditions are near perfect and the course is "set-up perfectly"–at least that's what Rocco Mediate said, and most agree. Read on to view several photos courtesy of the USGA that capture the essence of the U.S. Open, San Diego style. About the only thing not perfect here are the scores thrown up so far by the players with strong Las Vegas golf ties. Adam Scott, the former UNLV player who now works with Las Vegas' Butch Harmon, fired a decent 2-over par in the opening round as part of a pairing with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson (pictured). But Vegas resident Craig Barlow hit his opening drive errantly and never recovered, settling for a 9-over par 80. His first-hole bogey might have been the official first bogey of the 2008 event. Scott Piercy, who grew up in Las Vegas and still lives here, shot +7 in his first U.S. Open round while Dean Wilson, another Vegas resident, fired a 5-over 76. Former UNLV Rebel Chad Campbell fired a +6 score of 77 while new resident and another Harmon pupil, Nick Watney, finished at +2, tied with Scott.
Scott enjoyed the pairing of the top three players in the world, and relishes the chance to play with both Phil and Tiger.
"I know it's a big pairing and there's a lot of hoopla about it, but … I play with Phil a lot in Majors, it seems like I get drawn with him a lot," Scott said following the round. "But I enjoy playing with Tiger as well. I find it a lot easier to focus because I think I (have) to be a little more disciplined. And I felt like I played really well out there today and I really didn't make any putts. So my game didn't feel too bad."
After the round Scott also clarifed that his broken pinky was really a broken hand. The injury occurred when a friend slammed his hand in a door. The injury happened in London on the night of the Champion's League soccer final.
"It's not my finger anyway it's my hand," said Scott, when asked about the injury. "It doesn't really affect my golf swing, so I'm pretty lucky to be playing …
"… I had to balance resting it and keeping (the strength)– if I put it in a splint or a cast the muscle would have wasted away for a few weeks. So it's like a balance of resting it and keeping the strength, doing some strengthening exercises on it. And obviously it hasn't healed yet; it's only been a couple weeks since I broke it. But it's strong enough to where I can play and it's improved a lot in the last five days since I got here. So it's been no problem."
The Big Three are paired again in the second round.
Despite firing a 1-over par, 70, Tiger was in a fairly jovial mood following his round. He pulled his opening drive left into the rough and went on to make a double bogey 6; not the beginning he was looking for, even though he was hoping to get going quickly.
"That's a lot of shots to get into a flow," Woods said with a laugh after reflecting on his first six shots of the Open, all taken on the first hole. " … It's just a terrible way to start. It's one thing to hit the ball left off the first tee, that's fine, pitch out. But the wedge shot, I had all the room short of the hole and I fly it past the hole. That's just a terrible mistake."
Woods likened the two double bogeys he made to making bogeys on several holes.
"As I said, (there are) plenty of holes to go," Woods said. "We're all going to make mistakes out here. You're going to make more than two bogeys in 72 holes out here. As I said, I just happened to make two of them on the very first hole. So I just (have) to clean it up, get it going, and get to even par as fast as I could and then from there let's try and get to under par for the day and I did that. I got to under par at the turn and just didn't keep it there."
Reading between the lines, the guess is that Tiger Woods is about to go epic low in the second round. He was ecstatic about his position, even with his score. He said "I will clean that up" meaning he'll figure out how to not make double bogeys and not three-putt and we could be looking at a huge round on Friday.
Mickelson, who lists the nearby Ranco Sante Fe as his home, was pleased with his round, and pleased to be near par. He fired an ever par 71 for the day, culminated with a 18th-hole birdie after reaching the par 5 in two.
"Anything around par is kind of your target for the U.S. Open," said Mickelson. "And I should have a chance tomorrow to try to keep it around par, maybe get a couple birdies here or there, but really that's the gauge. I don't really look at what everybody else is doing because I just feel like it all seems to gravitate towards (par)."
Mickelson is playing the event without a driver in the bag because he believes the hard fairways will help his drives run out far enough.
"You noticed that I didn't have a driver today, huh?" cracked Mickelson. "My game plan was that I only want to hit it a certain distance, I don't really want to hit it past 300 yards on most of the par-4s because it starts running into the rough. And I felt like with the fairways being firm like they were today all I needed was 3-wood on the holes.
"Now if it rains or gets softer, I'll certainly pull driver out. But my game plan for months was, if it's firm fairways like I expected, 3-wood was all I needed. And I was able to take advantage of the two par-5s and get home no problem and that's all that, that's the most important thing."
Are we all ready for the second round?