PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Sergio Garcia has missed the cut in seven straight majors dating to the end of 2017, and he missed the cut in his two events coming into the U.S. Open. He opened with a 2-under 69, which would seem to be the spark he needed.
Or maybe not.
Asked how he felt about his game going into the week, Garcia said, “Horrible.”
Then he was asked to expand on what he meant by that.
“I mean, I can say it louder, but not clearer,” he said.
The Spaniard was more matter-of-fact than terse in his interview, willing to accept that his game is not where he’d like it.
He said the best part of his day was that he fought as hard as he could.
“The game doesn’t feel good at the moment. It’s as simple as that,” Garcia said. “We go through some of those stretches, and unfortunately, I’m picking the wrong part of the year to go through one of those. But the only thing I can do is keep fighting and try to shoot the lowest I can shoot. And whatever that is, we will see.”
As for the rest of the week?
“I don’t think I have much of a chance of winning this week the way I’m feeling,” he said. “But, you know, the planets have aligned before. If they do again, and it helps me, then it’s a good thing.”
Garcia said he hit some nice shots and some shots that “looked like a 25-handicapper.” Asked for the best shot he did in the opening round, he mentioned a bunker shot on his final hole at No. 9 to 3 feet.
“Unfortunately, I screwed it up with the putter,” he said.
Rory Sabbatini hit wedge to about 10 inches on the 11th hole and told his caddie, “One is going to go in sooner or later.”
He just didn’t think it would be on the next hole.
Sabbatini hit a 5-iron over the bunker and into the cup on the par-3 12 for a hole-in-one, the highlight of his round of 72. He could claim a small piece of history as being the first Slovakian to make an ace in the U.S. Open. Sabbatini, born in South Africa, became a citizen of his wife’s country at the end of last year.
“I just hit as high a 5-iron as I could up in the air with a high cut,” he said. “Landed, one bounce into the hole. That’s what I was told. I’m not sure exactly. I’m not that tall, so I can’t really see over the bunker that well.”
First hole-in-one at a major?
“Yes,” he said. “Unless you count the Masters Par 3 contest.”
Pebble Beach is a lot different in June for a U.S. Open than it is in February for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
It just felt the same to Brandt Snedeker on the par-5 18th.
His tee shot in February missed to the left and went down onto the beach. He played it off the sandy shore to the fairway, hit 7-iron to 10 feet and made birdie. On Thursday, his tee shot again went left down to the shore.
Snedeker played back to the fairway, hit his third shot left of the back pin to about 10 feet and – wait for it – holed the birdie putt.
He opened with a 69 in February, and a 74 in the U.S. Open.
Snedeker finished with two bogeys, and while the 74 is disappointing, he also chipped in for par from behind the 15th green and chipped in for birdie behind the 11th.
Aaron Wise is playing his third U.S. Open and had not shot better than 74 in his two other short trips.
He is becoming friends with Brooks Koepka, and they played a practice round earlier this week. Maybe it helped. Wise had only one bogey in his round of 66, leaving him one shot out of the lead.
“Something I can take away from him is just his calmness, not only just playing in those practice rounds but I’ve seen him multiple times through the events like today when I was on 17 tee he was on 4 tee,” Wise said. “He’s literally the calmest person in the world. It’s just a calming influence and I can kind of just take away his mentality. The fact that he really slows things down and calms things down even more and that works well for him.”
Lucas Bjerregaard of Denmark started with one too many shots into the ocean. He finished with a great up-and-down from 75 yards.
He wound up with an 11 on the par-5 18th hole that effectively ended his U.S. Open.
Bjerregaard, who knocked out Tiger Woods in the quarterfinals of Match Play earlier this year, wound up with an 80.
The good news? His 11 was still three shots better than John Daly on the 18th hole in the 2000 U.S. Open, when Daly put three shots into the Pacific, one shot in a backyard and made 14 on his 83. He withdrew after the round saying, “Get me to the airport.”
The U.S. Open record belongs to Ray Ainsley, who found trouble – lots of it – on the 16th hole at Cherry Hills in the 1938 U.S. Open and made a 19.
Caddies are wearing bibs in red, white and blue. But there’s also a silver bib for Ricky Elliott, caddie for two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka. The USGA this year decided that the champ’s caddie should get a different bib. It also put an image of the U.S. Open trophy on the bibs of all past champions. … Woods broke par in the opening round of the U.S. Open for the first time since 2012 at the Olympic Club. … Nate Lashley, making his U.S. Open debut at age 36, had one of only two bogey-free rounds. He shot 67. The other belonged to Graeme McDowell, who won his U.S. Open at Pebble in 2010 and shot 69.
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