Olympic's first 6 living up to nasty Open billing

Associated Press  |  Last updated June 15, 2012
Seventeen-year-old Beau Hossler had sole possession of the lead at the U.S. Open on Friday after a birdie on No. 1. Then reality hit for the California amateur on a stretch billed as the hardest start in tournament history. He bogeyed No. 2, doubled No. 4 and bogeyed Nos. 5 and 6 to drop off the leaderboard. ''It's just tough to have fun out there,'' said 2010 U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell, who also had bogeys at Nos. 1, 5 and 6 on Friday along with a birdie at No. 3. Sergio Garcia could attest to that. He smashed a microphone on the third tee after his shot came up short on the downhill par 3 and he could be seen pounding another club three holes later. Rickie Fowler maintained his composure. But it wasn't easy after he took a triple-bogey 7 on No. 1 after driving left into the bushes, then three-putting the tricky green. James Hahn didn't fare much better, hitting his tee shot 50 yards left, out of bounds, and through a tunnel that leads to a par-3 course. Even many who found the fairway found trouble afterward. ''We have heard a lot about (the first six holes) and today I helped with the high stroke average,'' quipped Nick Watney, who went bogey-double bogey-bogey on the first three and was 6 over through the first nine Friday. ''It's just difficult. When it's cold like this, the ball goes about a club shorter, so the shots uphill, like No. 2 and No. 4, play very long. The third hole runs away. I mean it's just a really difficult stretch. And if you're a little bit off it seems like at this tournament everything is magnified. ''So those six holes definitely demand good golf and if you play them well, you feel like you can make up a couple of shots. But it can also ruin your day.'' Tiger Woods played the first six at 1 under on Thursday, but he was the exception. Combined, there were 350 bogeys and 57 double bogeys or worse on the first six in the openin round, compared to just 40 birdies. The second round wasn't much better, and even Woods saw Olympic's front teeth. He was 1 under for the round until his second shot on No. 6 left him with an awkward stance in a greenside bunker - his ball hanging in the rough about a foot above. He punched it 20 feet past the hole up and tried to roll it in from the second cut with a 3-wood but missed for a bogey-5. Garcia, meanwhile, went from anger to shock to anger when his drive on No. 6 clipped a tree just right of the forward tee boxes and dropped straight down into the deep rough. For the longest time he held a fairway metal, then pointed to his caddie how bad the lie was. Finally he opted for a short iron that he slugged out to just short of the fairway bunker, and walked toward the fairway swinging his club into the ground. His third shot still wasn't on the green but he sank a 10-foot bogey putt to limit the damage. After two rounds, he played the first six in 5 over - and the other 12 at 1 under to reach the weekend at 4-over 144. It was par for the course. While McDowell called the course firm but fair, he questioned a few hole locations. ''I mean ... the pin on No. 1 today ... is it necessary to put this on the side of a slope?'' said McDowell, who drove left on No. 1 and had to punch out but salvaged bogey with a 10-foot putt. He certainly felt the 520-yard hole, which played as a par 5 in 1998, was tough enough already. One competitor suggested it should be a 4 1/2 considering its scoring average - 4.583 on Thursday. On Friday, midway through the round, it wasn't much easier at 4.50. But No. 6, a 489-yard par 4, had overtaken it as the toughest (4.618), with more bogeys than pars, and more double bogeys than birdies. McDowell would finish the grueling stretch just as he started, with a bogey. His approach was short next to the left bunker, and even with a great chip, couldn't get the putt to drop. ''My day was equally enjoyable as yesterday,'' McDowell said sarcastically, even though he was in contention at 1-over 141. The key was to forget the mistakes, and try to move on. Fowler did the best he could, but was on the cutline at 8-over 148 despite birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 on Friday. ''I've been playing really well the last few months and had to try to remember that and keep moving forward,'' Fowler said. Hahn wouldn't get that chance, missing the cut at 13-over 153, with three doubles and three bogeys over two rounds in the opening stretch - topped off by what he called a ''double-cross left'' through the tunnel. ''I was 4 over today on those and 4 over yesterday, and I tried to get it all back at once on (No. 7),'' said Hahn, who took another double on the 286-yard par-4. He wasn't the only one who discovered No. 7 wasn't much of a relief. ''I don't know if you ever get a relief,'' Kuchar said. ''Even (No. 7) can go wrong for you pretty quickly. ... The first six holes are tough, but they continue to be tough out there.''
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