BLOG: Tuesday from the U.S. Open at Olympic Club

Tiger Woods watches his ball sail down the fairway at hole 14

A crystal-clear and cool morning parlayed into a brilliantly sunny afternoon at the Olympic Club in San Francisco on Tuesday. Pristine blue skies and the foothills of the city provided the perfect background to the sparkling course. And with Round 1 of the 112th U.S. Open two days away, the buzz is turning into a roar.

A slight play on words to simply segue into Tiger Woods, who is one of 10 former U.S. Open winners in the 156-player field this week.

“Played the golf course now a couple of times, and it’s quick out there,” Woods said Tuesday, following his early morning practice round. “It’s getting there. It’s getting up to speed. I’m sure that it will get quicker as the week goes on. But it’s going to be a wonderful test.”

Angel Cabrera (2007), Michael Campbell (2005), Ernie Els (1994, 1997), Jim Furyk (2003), Lucas Glover (2009), Retief Goosen (2001, 2004), Graeme McDowell (2010), Rory McIlroy (2011) and Geoff Ogilvy (2006) are the other nine champions entered.

Test became the operative word among players, who will assuredly be greeted not concisely by a physical examination, but also a true probing of mental capability as well.

“Playing in The Open, you know it’s going to be a test of golf,” 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson said. “You know it’s going to be a fun test, a very difficult test.  It’s going to require mental focus that you’ve never had on most golf tournaments.

“You know the U.S. Open is going to challenge you in all aspects of your game. That’s the challenge for all of us this week.”

Defending champion McIlroy is certainly aware of the challenges that lay ahead as he is tries for back-to-back U.S. Open victories – a feat only completed by Curtis Strange (1988-89.)

“You can look at every hole here and you can pick out something that’s tough about it,” he said. “All 18 holes this week are going to be crucial.”

McIlroy won his championship at Congressional. His only other U.S. Open appearance came in 2010 at Pebble Beach.

“This is a little more similar to Pebble – not quite. It has that feeling about it, just with being on the coast and sort of the cool air and stuff,” McIlroy said. “I’m not sure it will be quite as difficult as Pebble was a couple of years ago, but it’s going to be a tough test.”

Holes No. 1 through No. 6 at the Olympic Club’s Lake Course, which includes a 520-yard Par 4 at No. 1 (the third longest Par 4 in U.S. Open history), is regarded as the course’s toughest stretch. The tree-lined, undulous Olympic measures 7,170 yards. The course also features the longest Par 5 in tournament history – the 670-yard 16th.

“You have to curve it more off the tees here than any other golf course that we play,” Woods added. “Even to the greens, you’ve got right to left slopes of, let’s say right to left slopes of fairways and greens, and you have to cut it, so you’re going against the grain. It’s the same thing on the flip side.

“That’s the neat thing about this golf course is it seems like the majority of the doglegs kind of run away from you,” Woods continued, captivating a packed interview room. “And it puts a big premium on shaping the ball.  But also it puts a big premium on game planning, what you want to do, where you want to hit it, and being committed to that.”

Woods, the 2000, 2002 and 2008 U.S. Open champion, will be paired with Watson and Phil Mickelson on Thursday and Friday, forming a delightful “super group” to keep an eye on heading into the weekend. Woods, though, said there wouldn’t be much conversation between he and his playing partners.

“I don’t think we’re going to talk about a lot. This is a Major championship. We’ve got work to do…This is a long grind,” Woods said. “We’re teeing off of No. 9, so we don’t get to play obviously the first six holes until it’s basically our back nine. “It’s such a test playing in this championship.  I think this is one of those championships that I think the guys talk the least to one another because it’s so difficult.”

– A hot topic – 14-year-old amateur Andy Zhang. Originally from the People’s Republic of China, Zhang took Paul Casey’s spot in the field after Casey withdrew Monday with a shoulder injury. Zhang, who competed in sectional qualifying at Black Diamond Ranch, is believed to be the youngest to compete in the U.S. Open.

“He qualified. He earned a spot. I tried it when I was 15, but he earned a spot,” Woods said. “He went out there … and did it. It’s not too young if you can do it. … That’s the great thing about this game, it’s not handed to you. You have to go out and put up the numbers and he did.”

– Lee Janzen won the last U.S. Open at Olympic Club in 1998, besting the late Payne Stewart by one stroke.

– Twenty players who were in the field in 1998 have returned.

Pairings and tee times

Thursday (June 14), hole #1; Friday (June 15), hole #9

7:15 a.m./12:30 p.m. — Scott Langley, Manchester, Mo.; Steve Lebrun, West Palm Beach, Fla.; A-Beau Hossler, Mission Viejo, Calif.

7:26 a.m./12:41 p.m. — Jason Bohn, Acworth, Ga.; Raphael Jacquelin, France; J. B. Park, Korea

7:37 a.m./12:52 p.m. — Michael Thompson, Birmingham, Ala.; TBD; Steve Marino, St. Simons Island, Ga.

7:48 a.m./1:03 p.m. — Brendan Jones, Australia; George Coetzee, South Africa; Gregory Bourdy, France

7:59 a.m./1:14 p.m. — A-Patrick Cantlay, Los Alamitos, Calif.; Jonathan Byrd, Sea Island, Ga.; Kyle Stanley, Gig Harbor, Wash.

8:10 a.m./1:25 p.m. — Retief Goosen, South Africa; Vijay Singh, Fiji; Zach Johnson, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

8:21 a.m./1:36 p.m. — Paul Casey, England; Hiroyuki Fujita, Japan; Mark Wilson, Elmhurst, Ill.

8:32 a.m./1:47 p.m. — Adam Scott, Australia; Keegan Bradley, Jupiter, Fla.; Webb Simpson, Charlotte, N.C.

8:43 a.m./1:58 p.m. — Tim Clark, South Africa; Toru Taniguchi, Japan; Rod Pampling, Australia

8:54 a.m./2:09 p.m. — Francesco Molinari, Italy; Bo Van Pelt, Jenks, Okla.; Peter Hanson, Sweden

9:05 a.m./2:20 p.m. — D. A. Points, Windermere, Fla.; Dong-Hwan Lee, Korea; Kevin Streelman, Scottsdale, Ariz.

9:16 a.m./2:31 p.m. — Edward Loar, Dallas, Texas; Paul Claxton, Claxton, Ga.; Alistair Presnell, Australia

9:27 a.m./2:42 p.m. — Mark McCormick, Middletown, N.J.; A-Nick Sherwood, Albany, Ore.; Cole Howard, Fort Worth, Texas

Thursday (June 14), hole #9; Friday (June 15), hole #1

7 a.m./12:45 p.m. — Shane Bertsch, Parker, Colo.; Martin Flores, Dallas, Texas; Tommy Biershenk, Inman, S.C.

7:11 a.m./12:56 p.m. — Scott Piercy, Las Vegas, Nev.; Matthew Baldwin, England; Matt Bettencourt, Greenville, S.C.

7:22 a.m./1:07 p.m. — Thomas Bjorn, Denmark; Kevin Na, Las Vegas, Nev.; Branden Grace, South Africa

7:33 a.m./1:18 p.m. — Phil Mickelson, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.; Tiger Woods, Hobe Sound, Fla.; Bubba Watson, Scottsdale, Ariz.

7:44 a.m./1:29 p.m. — Joe Ogilvie, Austin, Texas; Stephen Ames, Canada; Tim Herron, Deephaven, Minn.

7:55 a.m./1:40 p.m. — Davis Love III, Sea Island, Ga.; Padraig Harrington, Ireland; David Toms, Shreveport, La.

8:06 a.m./1:51 p.m. — Carl Pettersson, Sweden; Charl Schwartzel, South Africa; Charles Howell III, Windermere, Fla.

8:17 a.m./2:02 p.m. — Robert Karlsson, Sweden; Bob Estes, Austin, Texas; Robert Rock, England

8:28 a.m./2:13 p.m. — K. J. Choi, Korea; Y. E. Yang, Korea; K. T. Kim, Korea

8:39 a.m./2:24 p.m. — Fredrik Jacobson, Sweden; Robert Garrigus, Phoenix, Ariz.; Alexander Noren, Sweden

8:50 a.m./2:35 p.m. — Gonzalo Fernandez-Castan’o, Spain; SangMoon Bae, Korea; Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Spain

9:01 a.m./2:46 p.m. — Marc Warren, Scotland; Anthony Summers, Australia; Michael Allen, Scottsdale, Ariz.

9:12 a.m./2:57 p.m. — Hunter Hamrick, Montgomery, Ala.; Tim Weinhart, Alpharetta, Ga.; Scott Smith, Fallon, Nev.

Thursday (June 14), hole #1; Friday (June 15), hole #9

12:45 p.m./7 a.m. — Casey Martin, Eugene, Ore.; A-Cameron Wilson, Rowayton, Conn.; Dennis Miller, Youngstown, Ohio

12:56 p.m./7:11 a.m. — Jim Herman, Palm City, Fla.; William Lunde, Las Vegas, Nev.; David Mathis, Wake Forest, N.C.

1:07 p.m./7:22 a.m. — Nicolas Colsaerts, Belgium; Charlie Wi, Korea; Simon Dyson, England

1:18 p.m./7:33 a.m. — Alvaro Quiros, Spain; Gary Woodland, Topeka, Kan.; John Senden, Australia

1:29 p.m./7:44 a.m. — Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland; Luke Donald, England; Lee Westwood, England

1:40 p.m./7:55 a.m. — Jim Furyk, Ponte Vedra Bch, Fla.; Sergio Garcia, Spain; Graeme McDowell, Northern Ireland

1:51 p.m./8:06 a.m. — Stewart Cink, Duluth, Ga.; Trevor Immelman, South Africa; Lucas Glover, Sea Island, Ga.

2:02 p.m./8:17 a.m. Ernie Els, South Africa; Geoff Ogilvy, Australia; Angel Cabrera, Argentina

2:13 p.m./8:28 a.m. — Martin Laird, Scotland; Ben Crane, Beaverton, Ore.; Anders Hansen, Denmark

2:24 p.m./8:39 a.m. — Matteo Manassero, Italy; Aaron Baddeley, Australia; Miguel Angel Jimenez, Spain

2:35 p.m./8:50 a.m. — Brian Harman, St. Simons Island, Ga.; TBD; Mikko Ilonen, Finland

2:46 p.m./9:01 a.m. — Brice Garnett, Gallatin, Mo.; TBD; Jesse Mueller, Mesa, Ariz.

2:57 p.m./9:12 a.m. — Brian Rowell, Lafayette, La.; A-Alberto Sanchez, Nogales, Ariz.; Brian Gaffney, Monmouth Beach, N.J.

Thursday (June 14), hole #9; Friday (June 15), hole #1

12:30 p.m./7:15 a.m. — John Peterson, Baton Rouge, La.; Morgan Hoffmann, Jupiter, Fla.; Aaron Watkins, Mesa, Ariz.

12:41 p.m./7:26 a.m. — Jeff Curl, Birmingham, Ala.; Nicholas Thompson, Coral Springs, Fla.; Casey Wittenberg, Memphis, Tenn.

12:52 p.m./7:37 a.m. — Soren Kjeldsen, Denmark; Chez Reavie, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Peter Lawrie, Ireland

1:03 p.m./7:48 a.m. — Michael Campbell, New Zealand; Olin Browne, Tequesta, Fla.; Joe Durant, Pensacola, Fla.

1:14 p.m./7:59 a.m. — Bill Haas, Greenville, S.C.; Nick Watney, Las Vegas, Nev.; Brandt Snedeker, Nashville, Tenn.

1:25 p.m./8:10 a.m. — Martin Kaymer, Germany; Hunter Mahan, Colleyville, Texas; Justin Rose, England

1:36 p.m./8:21 a.m. — Steve Stricker, Madison, Wis.; Ian Poulter, England; Matt Kuchar, St. Simons Island, Ga.

1:47 p.m./8:32 a.m. — Jason Day, Australia; Louis Oosthuizen, South Africa; Jason Dufner, Auburn, Ala.

1:58 p.m./8:43 a.m. — Rickie Fowler, Murrieta, Calif.; Ryo Ishikawa, Japan; Dustin Johnson, Jupiter, Fla.

2:09 p.m./8:54 a.m. — Hunter Haas, Fort Worth, Texas; Tadahiro Takayama, Japan; Lee Slattery, England

2:20 p.m./9:05 a.m. — Alex Cejka, Germany; Kevin Chappell, Fresno, Calif.; Blake Adams, Eatonton, Ga.

2:31 p.m./9:16 a.m. — James Hahn, San Bruno, Calif.; Darron Stiles, Pinehurst, N.C.; Roberto Castro, Alpharetta, Ga.

2:42 p.m./9:27 a.m. — A-Brooks Koepka, Tallahassee, Fla.; TBD; Samuel Osborne, England

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