It was supposed to be the power trio. Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy were supposed to be the highlight of the morning.
However, when they took on Shinnecock, Shinnecock was the winner. With wind gusts of 30 MPH in the morning, all three golfers had problems with the conditions. Hardened and fast greens were also a factor as their short games were no up to speed either.
And they finished out of the money with terrible first rounds. Mickelson had the best number at 7-over-77 and Spieth was one behind him t 8-over-78.
“Got it off to a good start,” Spieth said. “It was hard after that. You just have to stay patient and understand that you are going to shoot 4-over plus once you are 4-over through two holes.
“Just tried to do a little too much on the second hole and it kind of bit me. From there it was just kind of a grind. Played pretty well to be even through the rest of the nine and then just didn’t make very good swings. There were certainly some dicey pins but at the same time there was guys that shot under par. So I could have played better.”
McIlroy, who didn’t speak after the round, let his 10-over-80 speak for itself. He was terrible all day on the short game.
The irony is all three said they looked forward to playing Shinnecock before the tournaments started and though the new conditions were conducive to their games. Apparently not so much.
Mickelson was the sentimental favorite coming it. At 47, this may be his last chance to win the US Open and get the career grand slam. Now that’s looking like an uphill battle.
Even Tiger Woods had a horrible day finishing 8-over-78. He couldn’t sink a number of easy putts and got worse as the day went along.
But the good news for these guys is that everyone had a bad day by their standards. Only four golfers were under par at -1-under-69 (Scott Piercy, Russell Henley, Ian Poulter, and Dustin Johnson) That’s it for the field.
It means we are just getting started. Of course, guys like Spieth and McIlroy will need a minor miracle for them to be playing on Saturday and Sunday.
You have to think there was a learning curve today. With the conditions at Shinnecock coming into play. Wind and greens are very different.
“So understanding how much the ball is going to move, stuff like that. And you’ve got to remember, if you do miss the fairway, if the ball does curve 40 yards and it goes in the rough, the ball sinks to the bottom, and now you’re hitting a flier or hitting a ball that might not fly, but it’s going to roll a lot,” Piercy said. “You’re trying to judge where the ball is landing, how much the ball is going to roll, trying to leave it in the correct spots around the green.
“And then the green — I mean, the greens are big, but the effective greens are really small. So one of the things that I was trying to do was the front of the green, plus five, and just try to kind of hit like a low roller, kind of like a bump and run from however far. That was just land it on the front, kind of chase it in to the middle of the greens.”
Johnson ay 1-under and the No. 1 ranking is probably the favorite, but the conditions could change tomorrow. That’s the beauty of Shinnecock and why the USGA likes having the Open here on Long Island.
Today, they field fought Shinnecock and Shinnecock won and frankly so did everyone who watched.