I don’t know Bellerive from Bel Air. (In fact I’m not sure how to pronounce it.) But I’m told the fairways are wider than traditional bomb-and-gouge tracks like Firestone. That means well-placed shorter drives should be rewarded with better lines to attack the greens. Don’t count the Zachs out just yet!
The biggest surprise is just how few surprises there were! The leaderboard seems to be going according to plan. The top 7 players in the world are all under par in stark contrast to the superstar carnage at the U.S. and British Opens. The best players appear to be playing the best. Bring on the weekend!
No. 11 is a driveable par 4 playing 298 today — but it’s super dangerous with water in front of the green on the right side. It was the site of Tiger’s double bogey yesterday after he hit it in the water. Rose comes up just short on his birdie attempt while Rahm and Spieth have testers left for par. And they make them.
Ben Kern birdies his last hole to shoot 69 and sit at even for the event. Hoping he makes the cut! Tiger is in the fairway with another iron off the tee. Tony Finau has birdied all five of his holes to start today. Is that good? Meanwhile Tiger makes his par.
Lots of waiting for the green to clear before JT swings away from over 300 yards out. He comes up short and left but draws a good lie at the edge of the fairway setting up a tricky chip.
Dustin Johnson in with a 66. He’s seven under and T3 right now three off the lead. Zach Johnson is another guy trying to lock down a Ryder Cup spot. He’s six under for the tournament and T5 right now.
Back to our featured group. Jordan is in trouble on the par-5 17th after hitting it into the water but he almost holes his fourth shot to set up a potentially epic par from inside of five feet. Kisner and Woodland are three shots clear of the field.
Middle of the green for Tiger after a too-safe approach with a wedge. Rory does a little better but JT’s was by far the best; he’s inside 10 feet for birdie. More like 25-30 for Woods.
Tiger’s birdie never has a chance and he taps in for par. Rory putts to tap-in range for his par and JT misses his birdie attempt on the low side. Now it’s Tiger’s turn. Rickie Fowler birdied No. 7 to get to -4 with two holes to play. He’s the outright leader now with Stewart Cink hanging in at one shot back.
Well in the end these three all ended up about where they started. Thomas will feel disappointed after a closing bogey left him at one-under 69. McIlroy never quite got it going in an even-par 70. And a finishing two-putt par leaves Woods at 70 as well. He should be pleased given that start. It’ll be interesting to hear his post-game remarks; he really salvaged this round.
I’m surprised by the variety of big and short hitters at the top. DJ Rickie Woodland Day … and ZJ Gay and Kisner? Looks like Bellerive is more than a bomb-and-gouge setup which is what you want at a major.
“Distance is not so important here as you might think” Gary Player said after winning the 1965 U.S. Open at a 7200-yard Bellerive (the longest-ever U.S. Open at the time). Will that hold true this week?