OAKMONT, Pa. — At 10:05 a.m. Saturday, Mathew Goggin had Oakmont all to himself.
He was No. 63 of the 63 who made it to the weekend, which gave him the option of playing alone at his own pace and the persepective of being the first player to see Oakmont’s teeth this weekend.
“I’ve had the honor of the worst to make the cut before,” Goggin said. “So it’s nothing new. I’m just glad they didn’t do a reverse U, where you get to tee off last off the 10th. That’s happened to me a couple times this year.”
Goggin played his round in a blistering 2 hours and 50 minutes, while some threesomes on Thursday and Friday took close to 5 hours. When he made his final putt on 18, Goggin was a full seven holes ahead of the group behind him.
“It’s sort of weird, because you have to sort of feel like you need to slow yourself down,” he said. “I play quick anyway. I could’ve played a lot quicker than what I did today.”
Even as the first man out of the gate, the first four holes were lined with spectators, some 10 deep.
“There were thousands of people everywhere. I was at 10-over par, but they were cheering for every shot,” he said. “I was totally shocked at how many people were out. They were all real excited just to have anyone come along. They’d been waiting there for a while.”
Being the odd man out of a 63-man field, Oakmont Country Club offered Goggin a marker, usually the club pro or an assistant, who plays alongside a lonely player. Goggin refused.
“I sort of just wanted to play by myself, get into a good rhythm and get a good round going,” he said.
And he did — Goggin shot a four-over 74, which doesn’t exactly put him in the hunt going into Sunday, but it could be one of Saturday’s best. He was 14-over after his third round.
The Aussie, who turned 33 the day before the tournament, missed the cut last year in his first U.S. Open. As the early expert on Saturday’s conditions, Goggin said he believes a score in the 60s is possible even though it’s dry.
“The wind hasn’t really picked up,” he said. “It sort of felt like it was going to get windy. But it’s not too outrageous.”
Because the tees have been moved up on the par 5s, Goggin said both will be birdie holes.
“Someone’s going to go out at eight or nine over and shoot one or two under,” he said. “By the end of the day, three or four over will be leading.”
While he was alone Saturday, it looks like he’ll have company tomorrow. Goggin’s 74 might be one of the best rounds of the day, which should move him up the field and give him a final-round playing partner.