OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) — Swing coach Butch Harmon had to serve two masters Friday at the U.S. Open.
Harmon has been working the past several years with Adam Scott, the No. 4 player in the world ranking. He began working about two months ago with three-time major champion Phil Mickelson.
Just his luck, Mickelson and Scott played together the first two rounds.
Even though Mickelson is the more celebrated and accomplished player, Harmon has gone to great lengths to say his priority was helping the 26-year-old Australian win his first major. Still, Harmon didn’t arrive until Scott was already about 10 minutes into his warm-up session, and then he spent five minutes chatting with Mickelson’s caddie.
Lefty finally arrived and made it easy for the coach.
“Where do you want to go?” he said to Harmon. “`Would you rather have me hit by Adam? Would that be easier?”‘
“Wherever you want,” Harmon replied. “But that would be easier for me.”
Mickelson found an opening two spots down from Scott, separated only by Jeff Sluman. Harmon, however, headed straight for Scott and spent the next 10 minutes working with him, then switched over to Mickelson.
Scott took triple bogey on the first hole on his way to an 82. Mickelson shot 40 on the back nine for a 77.
Stephen Ames’ 69 at Oakmont satisfied him more than his 66 at Shinnecock that led to his ninth-place finish in 2004. Paul Casey’s 66 was the only other below-par round Friday, when the average score was nearly 77.
“This is a different monster altogether compared to Shinnecock,” Ames said.
Ames was 1 under on the difficult three-hole stretch from No. 7 to No. 9 that includes the first par 3 in U.S. Open history that is nearly 300 yards, No. 8. During his opening-round 73, he bogeyed each of those holes.
Ames worried that all the high scores Friday would encourage the USGA to keep Oakmont’s fast greens dry and almost impossible to master this weekend.
“If it gets dry like Shinnecock was, those last two days will be ridiculous, because the greens are twice as severe as those were,” said Ames, the 2006 Players Championship winner. “I would hope the USGA would have learned something from that situation.”
Ow, my nose
Justin Rose had the perfect excuse for his three-putt bogey on No. 2.
Rose had a nosebleed on the second hole, and he was still sniffling when he reached the green on the par 4.
“Certainly I would say the second green was a little bit difficult,” he said. “I can’t necessarily blame the three-putt on that, but it was unusual that it happened, yeah.”
The Englishman recovered nicely, though, shooting a 1-over 71 that left him 2 over for the tournament.
Rose didn’t know what caused the nosebleed – “My caddie didn’t hit me or anything” – but said it might have been his allergies. He tends to get hay fever, and people in Pittsburgh have complained all spring that this is a particularly bad year for allergies. Brisk winds stirred things up even more Friday.
“I don’t know if something got irritated,” Rose said. “It was a little annoying, but by the fourth hole it was all good.”
How did he cure it?
“What do you do with nosebleeds?” he laughed. “You just throw a bit of tissue up there and off you go.”
Pain in the Back
Steve Stricker was on the practice range when, without hitting a shot, he felt a twinge in his back.
He did a slow knee bend, trying to stretch it out, which got the attention of caddie Scott Steele. He reached into the bag for a bottle of pain relievers, which Stricker quickly downed.
“Something just grabbed it,” he said.
Stricker made it through his round in 73 and was at 8-over 148, but his back wasn’t feeling any better. He said he has been feeling a few aches in the back of his knee, and worried that it was causing problems in his back.
Tom Pernice Jr. played the first two rounds with Charl Schwartzel, a 22-year-old South African in his second U.S. Open who is No. 46 in the world ranking.
Asked for his impressions, Pernice said he sounded familiar – in other words, not much chatter.
“I’d say he’s your typical South African,” Pernice said. “They never talk, just like Retief (Goosen) or Ernie (Els); not the most exciting personalities, but loads of talent, no question.”
Typical South African?
Apparently, Pernice hasn’t played too often with Rory Sabbatini.
The youngest player in the field didn’t make the cut at the U.S. Open. He didn’t even make it to the end of his second round. Richard Lee withdrew after 13 holes Friday with a wrist injury. The 16-year-old was 11 over for the day, 20 over for the tournament when he stopped.
“I am disappointed,” he said. “But I’m still happy that I came here this week to this wonderful golf course, Oakmont. A lot of history to this course. It’s an honor that I played here.”
Lee was trying to chip out of the rough beside the green on the par-4 11th when he tweaked his right wrist.
“I took a full swing at it because it was all the way down there,” he said. “After that shot, I was like, `Whoa, what happened to my wrist?’ I was just trying to concentrate, but I couldn’t. There was a lot of pain.”
Lee played the 12th and 13th holes and then withdrew.
Paul Goydos was 11 over par for the tournament, surely headed home, when he played final 13 holes in even par.
He had some help.
Goydos holed out for eagle from 231 yards in the seventh fairway, even though he gave that back with a double bogey on the 10th. He birdied the 12th, only to bogey the 13th, then finished with five straight pars.
“My patience is horrible,” he said. “This golf course, and the U.S. Open, test your patience. I was 11 over after five holes today, so I must have hung in there pretty good. It’s easier to stay patient when you’re holing 231-yard 3-irons.”