Pebble Beach, California (June 17, 2010)–Where do you start following the first round of a US Open? A golfer can't win it after round one, but one can certainly lose it. Stories abound, from Phil Mickelson shooting 76 but loving the course set up to Tiger shooting 74 but happy, to two Las Vegas golfers in contention, including Las Vegas resident Alex Cejka. Cejka is at 1-under par and one shot off the lead heading into the final round. Another resident, Craig Barlow, finished 2-over par, but was in the top 10 during much of the first round until he went 3-over par on his final three holes. Read on for much more from the US Open, Pebble Beach style.–By Brian Hurlburt.
Cejka, who originally hails from the Czech Republic, has lived in Las Vegas for several years and plays and practices at TPC Las Vegas, a PGA Tour facility. He is one of many Las Vegas tour pros who plays and practices at TPC Las Vegas. TPC Las Vegas is a PGA Tour-owned resort Las Vegas golf course. You can click to the official TPC Las Vegas website to reserve your Las Vegas tee times. Cejka played a very solid round of golf, with two birdies and two bogeys. He didn't make a bogey until his 17th hole, the tough par 3 that plays directly into a green that seemingly is perched in the ocean.
Phil Mickelson, who works with Las Vegas resident Butch Harmon, called his putting "horrific", but also said that he loved the course setup and praised Mike Davis, who is in charge of setting up the US Open courses. Mickelson called the course setup perfect, even despite firing an opening round of 76. "I think Mike Davis has a good grasp on the golf course," said Mickelson. "I think he knows how the course plays. He wants it to be a fair test. He's not looking to make 10 or 12 over win. He has a good understanding of what a fair test is without going over the line, at least for the last four years he seems to have done a pretty good job, and every year gets better. I think he just has a good idea what he's doing. I think he's the greatest asset the USGA has, in my opinion."
Davis also made a few comments regarding the setup of the course. "This is absolutely the best I've ever seen Pebble Beach and one of the things that we did with this U.S. Open was raise the cut of height a little bit so we could roll more," said Davis. "And we really feel that that rolling has helped. Now when you get later in the day, some of that roll goes away, you get some of that growth, thus you get some of that. But all in all, that's just kind of, you know, I think we were very, very happy with the course setup … we're very happy. If we can just try to duplicate that for another three days, it will be great."
In other Las Vegas golfer news at the US open, Craig Barlow was still satisfied following his first round when we caught up with him, even with his tough finish. "I'm happy, it was a solid round," said Barlow, who lives in Henderson, a Vegas suburb. "Yesterday, the course was as firm and hard as I had ever played, but today it was a little easier, if you can call it easier. I went to sleep a couple times during the round, and that hurt me, but it was a good round. I know I have to be patient and play away from the pins tomorrow, and I will do that."
Barlow played for the middle of the green on the 8th hole, his 17th, but the wind pushed his shot into the right bunker. He then "skulled" his bunker shot across the green into another trap and made a double. That followed a bogey on his 16th and he finished 2-over par. But he did say that the middle stretch of holes was the best that he has ever played during a US Open. Las Vegas resident Nick Watney, who finished at 5-over par, had the line of the day. "If you are writing the story of my round, there were no highlights and nobody would be reading your story," said Watney as he headed to the locker room. Las Vegas resident Kevin Na, who was all smiles after playing a practice round with the legendary Tom Watson, fired a tough 80 in the first round.