Thursday, June 17, 2021. 11:51 AM
(Update : Thursday, June 17, 2021. 4:01 PM)
SAN DIEGO – Thirteen years of waiting was obviously not enough for the Torrey Pines course, which decided to wait a little longer. After 90 minutes of delay, the result of a very inconvenient weather, the players were finally able to tread the alleys of the field, which offered good challenges.
Even if he was not expected at the top, Russell Henley is the one who best tamed the idiosyncrasies of Torrey Pines, along with Louis Oosthuizen, offering himself a round of 67. In the case of Oosthuizen, he rests to -4 after 16 holes. He will complete his last two holes in the morning on Friday, after being held back by darkness. This practically flawless first day allowed Henley to gain confidence, he who has never had much success in major tournaments.
“I haven’t played very good consistent golf in the majors and at the US Open. For me, the important thing is to be comfortable. That’s why we always see the players well placed in the standings to be successful. They are comfortable in difficult situations, on difficult terrain. I work there, I try to be comfortable here, it’s a good test. “
While he has never been dominant, or even in the race for major honors, Henley still has an interesting history in the United States Open, where he played his first tournament on the PGA Tour in 2010 as an amateur player. Casually, Henley had then finished the tournament at 16e echelon, the best ranking of an amateur at this edition. In his last two participations, he had recorded a 25e and a 27e position.
For his part, Oosthuizen will have to complete his round on Friday morning, but he took advantage of an excellent streak of three consecutive birdies on his nine to go to climb the ranks in the standings.
Speaking of successful players, it is impossible to ignore Brooks Koepka’s performance, major after major. Of his eight victories on the PGA Tour, four have come at major tournaments, including two at the United States Open (2017 and 2018).
After his second place in the PGA Championship, Koepka picked up where he left off and handed in a -2 card.
“I understood a lot of things in 2014, even though I didn’t win the tournament [l’Omnium des États-Unis]. I understood the game plan, I understood different situations and how to play the tournament. “
In their rearview mirror, Henley and Oosthuizen can see Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello and Francesco Molinari, one shot behind.
In the footsteps of Tiger Woods
In June 2008, during the last edition of the United States Open at Torrey Pines, Xander Sc Chaudele was 14 years old and he had witnessed the historic victory of Tiger Woods, his last at this major tournament. Thirteen years later and when he is 27 years old, here is ScHotele can aspire to win a first major tournament in career, where history was written before his eyes.
“I have waited a long time to be here. I was 14 years old and I witnessed a historic event. I have always been very motivated since that time, it is very pleasant to be here. “
Now it is ScHotele’s turn to live up to the high expectations, which he did brilliantly with a round of 69 on Thursday to start his round.
After giving golf fans a fairy tale a few weeks ago by winning the PGA Championship, Phil Mickelson had more trouble in California. Lefty was never really in possession of his means, committing five bogeys. He handed over a 75 card.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau struggled a lot in this first round as well. He put in a series of bad shots, also showing some signs of frustration during his round. He was able to register a birdie at the 18e hole to limit the damage and end his round at +2.
Known to be a workaholic, DeChambeau headed straight for the driving range after his round, even if he finished in the dark, a sign that he does not intend to repeat the same mistakes on Friday, for the 2e round.
Difficult day for the Maple Leaf
Aside from Adam Hadwin’s scoring to save the honor, the Canadian players had a tough day at the office in the first round. Without making too much noise, Hadwin managed to postpone a round of 70 to reach the 11e row, three nods after a round.
After more than encouraging performances in major tournaments this season, Corey Conners had every reason in the world to come with full confidence around Torrey Pines. The day did not go as desired for the Canadian, who could not do better than a card of 75.
Not all is set in stone for Conners, however. After a round of 73 at the Masters Tournament a few months ago, Conners bounced back with a card of 69 and took the 8.e tournament place. He will have to step up, however, if he wants to see some action for the weekend’s rounds.
For his part, Mackenzie Hughes handed in a card of 73. Taylor Pendrith suffered a bad three-bogeys streak on his nine to go and he was unable to recover, finishing the day at 75.
The first round will be completed in the morning Friday morning, since several groups did not have the necessary time to finish before dark.