SOUTHAMPTON, NEW YORK | Twenty-five over par.
Collectively, that’s what Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth shot in their glittery, Hamptons-worthy grouping in the first round of the windswept U.S. Open Thursday at sinister Shinnecock Hills.
Want to summarize the unforgiving and unrelenting challenge of the first day? Here you go:
Rory McIlroy – 80.
Jordan Spieth – 78.
Phil Mickelson – 77.
Pretty as a bruise.
Try finding a pre-tournament list of favorites that didn’t include at least two of those guys. There were reasons – good reasons – why each of them were considered reasonable choices to win this national championship. At least until Thursday.
Now they’re iffy to make the 36-hole cut and, in McIlroy’s case, he’s going have to do some really good work Friday to avoid having the weekend off.
“Very difficult,” Spieth said.
Emphasis on very.
Of course, when you start bogey, triple-bogey like Spieth did, that’s as much fun as cutting yourself shaving.
Starting on the downwind par-4 10th, Spieth made a quick bogey then he went for a half dozen at the treacherous par-3 11th hole when he missed the green with his tee shot, failed to get his initial pitch shot on the putting surface and, when he finally reached the green, three-putted.
“You’re 4 over through two and you’ve got to figure out how to shoot 4 over for the day,” Spieth answered when asked what he was thinking going to his third hole.
At least Spieth paused momentarily for a debriefing session with the media after his round. Mickelson and McIlroy took a pass on the opportunity to wallow in their frustration.
In Mickelson’s case, he hit 13 of 14 fairways, which suggests he should have posted something significantly lower than 77. It didn’t happen.
As difficult as Shinnecock played Thursday, it doesn’t explain the wedge shot Mickelson bladed over the green from 92 yards on the par-5 16th, turning a potential birdie into a bogey.
McIlroy never found anything he could rely on except missing fairways and greens, which accounted for his 42 on his opening nine holes.
Shinnecock was hard for everyone but was it set up fairly?
Spieth quibbled with a couple of pin positions but stopped short of saying the USGA got it wrong.
“If you played the right shots and hit it well to the right spots, you could make pars,” he said.
Just not enough of them in his group.