Last Updated on Friday, 15 June 2012 22:59
Friday, 15 June 2012 21:28
Fred Couples And Aaron Rodgers Take In The Tiger Show
by Alfie Lau
On a beautiful Friday afternoon in sunny San Francisco, Freddie Couples is inside the ropes watching Tiger, Phil and Bubba.
Sure, the President's Cup captain might be scouting for next year – as if he doesn't have all three on his team – but it's all about being in the Tiger Aura.
Couples is squiring a beautiful Oriental lady and Green Bay Packers QB and former Cal (Berkeley) quarterback Aaron Rodgers is also in the crowd.
The stars always seem to make it out to see other stars and there are rumours that old Tiger gambling buddies Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley may soon be wandering the fairways of Olympic before the weekend is out.
I spent the better part of the afternoon fighting the hordes to watch the marquee threesome and the crowd was pretty well-behaved.
We could hear roars from the other side of the course and those came courtesy of 16-year-old Beau Hossler, who had it to (-2) for some time until he started throwing up all over himself with a bogey at 2 and double at 4.
But who are we to make fun of a 16-year-old whose mother, Amy Balsz, is more worried about him making his orthodontist appointments rather than his sterling golf game.
The afternoon has been a repeat of the morning, with almost nobody making a move up the leaderboard. The best score of the day – from a contender – came from Jim Furyk, who shot 69 to go with his opening round 70 to sit at one-under. (Steve Stricker's 68 is nothing to sneeze at, but when you open with a 76, you'll need a lot more 68s to get back into contention).
Furyk is everybody's choice as a prototype for what a U.S. Open golfer should be. Always thinking, always confident in his swing and never so impatient as to try and do something that leads to a disaster.
"I think that I'm comfortable now working the ball both ways. I think when I'm playing well, I do a great job of keeping the ball in the fairway and being patient and trying to put the ball on the green in a spot that's playable," said Furyk.
"I guess you have to realize at the U.S. Open, par is a really good score and you're going to makes some bogeys. And when I'm patient, when I'm playing well, I've had some success here."
Just In Case You Didn't Believe Super Reporter Alfie Lau, Here Is The Photo Proof Of Fred Couples, Aaron Rodgers And An Unknow Oriental Lady Watching The U.S. Open At Olympic Club In San Francisco
Yup, that's why everybody thinks Furyk has a pretty good chance of holding up a trophy when this tournament ends. As nice as Furyk is – and I can still see his look of worry as I flew by on the back of a golf cart at the World Match Play in Tucson in February – the best interviews Friday came from the European contingent.
Graeme McDowell, famous in 2010 for buying drinks for the entire press corps after winning at Pebble Beach, had that Irish glint in his eye as he answered questions after his round of 72 left him at (+1) for the tournament.
"My day was as equally enjoyable as yesterday," McDowell joked. "It's just tough to have fun out there. I've got to be honest with you. It's just a brutal test of golf. … If you had offered me one-over par starting on the first tee yesterday having seen what I saw yesterday morning, I would have probably snapped your arm off for it."
Yup, McDowell is one cool cat. He called the course set-up "firm but fair" and while he respects the course, he says it's "not a lot of fun.... not a lot of fun."
Also not a lot of fun was a new fence the USGA put up just behind the clubhouse. During the practice rounds and for the first round, the hillside behind the 8th hole was a great place to watch the action as we waited for golfers to come in for interviews.
The area was also accessible to friends and families of the players – along with assorted other hangers-on – and because of all the people who showed up there on Thursday, there were a couple of accidents with people rolling down the hill.
So up went the fence overnight on Thursday and now one of the best spots to watch the action is the worst. It's just a minor complaint coming from us media types, but the players themselves are wondering what the USGA does to have the course playing so hard and difficult, even in a time as short as Wednesday practice rounds to Thursday competition.
Tiger Woods mused after his first round that greens were so fast that it almost seems like the USGA installed sub-air drying (this is what Augusta National does to have the fastest greens anywhere) under each green.
And world number 1, Luke Donald, who shot himself out of the tournament with an 11-over total after two rounds, said he doesn't know how he would prepare differently.
"I feel like I was just prepared as I can be. I certainly don't regret anything that I did before teeing up on Thursday," said Donald. "The problem these days when we play Majors is the week before is nothing like when you get to Thursday. Even Wednesday was different to Thursday. They have a knack to try and make ..... to get this course playing differently. When it comes to turning up on Thursday morning, it seems like a different animal."
That different animal is beating the tar out of the golfers because with only Furyk in the clubhouse under par after the morning flight, the sentiment around here is that it might take a (-4) or (-5) to win this U.S. Open.
I'm off to see the final holes for Woods and Stephen Ames, who's playing in the group directly behind Woods, Mickelson and Bubba Watson.
By Alfie Lau
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