Commentary

U.S. Open live blog

Updated: June 13, 2008, 10:07 AM ET
By Jason Sobel | ESPN.com

Throughout this week, ESPN.com golf writer Jason Sobel will be live blogging from the U.S. Open, bringing you inside information and analysis from Torrey Pines. Refresh this page often to keep track of all the entries during each round.

Have a question or comment for Sobel? E-mail him at usopenblog@gmail.com.

6:40 p.m. PT: I was waiting to finish this thing up until some of the big boys near the top of the leaderboard were done and now they are. Geoff Ogilvy is in with a 2-under 69 (watch out for him this weekend; I'm tellin' ya), Ernie Els and Robert Allenby each shoot 69.

And with that, I am out. Thanks for the 670 e-mails (and counting) so far today; let's do even better tomorrow. I'll be back at 7 a.m. PT for the first tee shot of the day. See you then.

6:32 p.m.: Not to make this thing too personal, but I just received an e-mail from Trigger's wife:

    Teenyboppers are not the only ones disappointed we didn't get a glimpse of Adam Scott today.

See what happens when you don't make a birdie in three years, fellas? The wife starts looking elsewhere.

6:28 p.m.: Actual announcement just made in the media center: "Kevin Streeland is now in the interview room. Kevin Streeland is in the interview room."

Guess you have to shoot better than 68 to have your name pronounced correctly around here.

6:25 p.m.: On-course spy report from my old roommate Trigger, who was watching live when Jean Van de Velde took his socks off:

    Horrendous putting display by Luke Donald, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey coming home. They all miss from four feet or closer. Poulter three-putts from seven feet -- gives mock fist pump after first missed putt, then misses three foot comebacker. Casey three-putted also.. Donald missed a shot at shooting a red number. A grim display all around.

6:19 p.m.: Just want to clear something up. I called the course "easier" before, but that doesn't mean it's easy. What most of the players are saying is it's fair, but not easy. A few examples:

    Q: What's the difference between fair and easy?
    LEE WESTWOOD: Fair and easy? Well, this is fair and it's not easy. You look at the scoreboard to see the scores. If you hit it slightly off line, the golf course gives you a chance to get it up and around the greens. And then if you get it up and around the greens in the right position, you can get it up-and-down if you got the skill. Which is good.

    Q: [Fair.] That's the word everyone used, is it a synonym for easier or not?

    ROCCO MEDIATE: No, it's not easier. Couple guys were talking yesterday, one or two of the instructors, how guys are saying the course is easy. I haven't seen easy out here. There's not one hole out here where you can fall asleep. You just have to, you got to really work upon what you're doing and more so than any other event, I think. In my opinion. It's just, it's just you have to have a much tighter tolerance here or you're going to get ripped to pieces, and I love that part about the U.S. Open. This is my favorite event.

5:56 p.m.: Quick little comparison between Oakmont and Torrey Pines …

• 2007: Four rounds, seven players under par (two in the first round)
• 2008: One round, 12 players under par (four still on the course)

Players widely believed before today that this course would play easier. Looks like they were right.

5:47 p.m.: Kevin Streelman does indeed finish with a bogey at No. 9 to shoot a 3-under 68. Unless Ogilvy or Els gets hot over the final three holes, Streelman and Justin Hicks will be your leaders entering Round 2.

5:44 p.m.: A few more from the masses:

• Stainless Streel
• Streel American Hero

Gotta get 'em all out of the way before Streelman makes bogey (or worse) to close out his round.

5:29 p.m.: E-mail from Scott in Parts Unknown, though I'll assume he's located in Streelmanville:

    I'm 26 years old and I am convinced that Kevin Streelman is going to be the Freddie Couples of my generation. I called it in January at the Buick, when he was high-fiving fans and winking at the camera and I'm calling it again right now. I saw him a month after the Buick when he was playing at Riviera in L.A. and he had a following of about 50 rowdy kids that was the closest thing I've seen to a Happy Gilmore gallery on the tour. Be on the lookout for the "Nerves of Streel" t-shirts that will be selling like hotcakes in the parking lot this weekend. This kid is legit.

That's the most enthusiasm I've ever heard for a 608th-ranked player.

Which leads to this on-course spy report from my former roommate Trigger:

    Scream from Streelman's folks after latest putting gem: " Great read Mikey!!!"

So far today, I've seen reference to the following when discussing Streelman:

• Man of Streel
• Nerves of Streel
• The Streel Deal

Any more? The headline writers may need some help.

5:26 p.m.: As if the BLOG JINX on Ernie Els wasn't enough, I stopped watching right before Geoff Ogilvy made a bogey as well.

Oops, sorry about that, fellas.

5:23 p.m.: Just going over some of the quotes from earlier today and found some interesting stuff on Adam Scott's finger -- er, his hand.

    Q: How is the finger first of all?

    ADAM SCOTT: Well, it's broken. It's not my finger anyway it's my hand, but it doesn't really affect my golf swing, so I'm pretty lucky to be playing.

    Q: Do you have any good stories?

    ADAM SCOTT: I got lots of good stories on how it happened, yeah. It's pretty miserable. But a friend slammed my hand in the door.

    Q: Of a car?

    ADAM SCOTT: Yeah.

    Q: Did it catch it like right here?

    ADAM SCOTT: Right across the edge. Yeah, it's broken right here.

    Q: Where was it?

    ADAM SCOTT: In London. It was the night of the Champions League final in Russia.

    Q: Do you normally overlap or interlock?

    ADAM SCOTT: I overlap, fortunately, because I wouldn't have been able to play if I interlock, it would have been too much stress on it.

All things considered, a pretty solid 2-over 73 for Scott.

5:17 p.m.: As suspected, Els makes bogey on 5. Stinky.

5:15 p.m.: I smell something emanating from Ernie Els. Smells like a BLOG JINX. Let's see how he finishes up here on No. 5 …

5:07 p.m.: E-mail from Wally in Boston:

    So with Ernie Els and Geoff Ogilvy prodding along as the biggest names at the top, where do you rank each of their chances/games going into Friday, especially with them going out early for what we'd think would be more benign conditions?

Well, entering the week, I liked Ogilvy a whole lot more than Els, but you're right; they're both in great position going into tomorrow if they can hold on here. We've got to expect benign conditions tomorrow morning, with the course getting firmer and, if anything, the wind blowing more in the afternoon. (It's a little breezy now, but not much.) Same goes for Kevin Streelman, Robert Allenby, Luke Donald and everyone else on the leaderboard who's still on the course right now.

Speaking of Streelman, great par save on No. 7 to remain at 4-under. Seems like he's loving every minute of it, too.

5:01 p.m.: E-mail from John in Princeton, N.J.:

    Is it too soon to start thinking of Retief Goosen as the 21st century version of Andy North/Curtis Strange/Lee Janzen?
I'd never thought about that before, but you might be onto something. Goosen became a top-five player in the world a few years ago, but his game has slipped as of late. I ran into his caddie, Colin Byrne, the other day and asked how he was hitting 'em. His response (and I paraphrase): "I can't tell anymore. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good."

Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Goosen is actually playing pretty well today, at 1-over through 13 holes, including two birdies and three bogeys.

4:52 p.m.: Kevin Streelman makes par on No. 6 to stay at 4-under, but hits his drive right on No. 7.

Meanwhile, Ernie Els and Geoff Ogilvy -- neither of whom I've mentioned yet and both of whom will be trying to elude the blog jinx -- keep plugging along at 3-under through 12.

And let me give a little shout-out to Andrew Dresser, the former Texas Tech player. I spoke with him via phone last week and he told me that since he had never played Torrey Pines, he bought "Tiger Woods 04" for 5 bucks from GameStop and has been playing it to prepare for the tourney. He's at 2-under through eight holes, which proves that video games really do pay off in real life.

4:29 p.m.: Off-course spy report from my buddy, the awesome golf blogger Bob Smiley, who couldn't sneak his cell phone onto the course (Though in sort of a Catch-22 situation, since he doesn't have a press credential, he can't get in trouble for even trying … uh, right?) From the car, he writes:

    The only interesting thing I can tell you about right now is that out on Torrey Pines Rd., the city of San Diego is making bank pulling over anyone who dares to stop and pick people up from the Open. They literally can't get people fast enough.

Uh, maybe they didn't think you were so innocently "picking up people," ever think of that, Bob?

4:23 p.m.: We have confirmation that Justin Hicks is currently ranked 722nd in the world, just 114 spots behind Kevin Streelman.

As the person who confirmed this said to me (and whose name I can't reveal for obvious reasons), "I made more money than him last year!" He's 11-for-21 making cuts on the Nationwide Tour in the past two years.

4:09 p.m.: E-mail from Parker in NYC:

    What was Phil Mickelson so upset about concerning the 13th tee? Biggest waste of money? I've been working all day so I haven't been able to see it myself -- any insight there? And do you agree with him?

In case you missed it, here's what Mickelson had to say:

    That new tee box is terrible. It's the biggest waste of money that I've ever seen. But it doesn't matter what I think, we're going to end up playing it and I've got to be ready for it. But it's terrible. … The reason it's so terrible is that before there was great risk/reward. There was great reward if you hit the fairway from the tee where you could go for it. Because it's such a tough shot from the bottom of that hill for birdie. But from the back tee nobody can reach it. Everybody's going to be laying up to the same spot, some with a 6- iron, some with a 3-iron, and everybody is going to have the same pitch, it's like a par-3 from the bottom of the hill. So there's no opportunity for a longer player to take advantage of his length. There's no opportunity for a guy who strikes it straighter to take advantage of his skill. And there's no opportunity for a guy who wants to take a little bit of risk and try to get it by the green and be rewarded. So it's just a terrible tee box.

For a guy who usually speaks in glowing terms about, well, everything, this was a bit of a shocker. But really, I can't say I disagree with him. I spent about 30-45 minutes standing out on the 13th tee box yesterday and it doesn't make much sense. Basically, the USGA has stretched out the hole so much that there is no chance for players to go for it in two, essentially turning it into a par-3 for both long hitters and short hitters, like Mickelson said.

It doesn't seem like they screwed up too much with this course, but I'm just not sure creating the new tee box in the way back was worth the trouble.

4:01 p.m.: Kevin Streelman is 4-under through 12 holes, leading by one. My buddy Dave reminds me of a good quote from Tiger prior to playing with the "Man of Streel" at the Buick in January:

    The world's No. 1 player said he had never heard of Streelman, and when told that he was No. 1,354 in the world ranking, Woods replied, "I think he might be going up."

Streelman is currently 608th in the world. I haven't been able to find Justin Hicks' name on that list yet, but it's nowhere near 608.

3:51 p.m.: E-mail from Sean in North Carolina:

    The defending champ is 8-over through eight holes. If he gets Romo'd, I'll throw in the first $10 for a carton of Lucky Strikes for him at California prices.

Actually, Cabrera said he gave up smoking last year, but he may want to start taking it up again if he keeps playing like this. Interesting note: San Diego is a smoke-free city, so there is no smoking allowed on the course, but they have designated a few smoking areas on the course for those in the field who wish to light up -- sort of like that smoker's circle outside your office where everyone congregates.

In any case, not a strong title defense so far.

3:37 p.m.: A few things …

My laptop just made back-to-back triple-bogeys, dropping me far off the leaderboard. Must have caught it in the sweet spot with that 3-iron earlier. Back now (I think).

I've been informed that "Mikey" is Streelman's caddie. Not sure how many PGA Tour wives would yell for their husband's caddie, but that's nice of her.

As it's getting into the heart of the afternoon, I'm dragging, but the e-mails are slowing down to a crawl. Keep 'em coming.

3:18 p.m.: E-mail from John in Dallas:

    All Sergio Garcia needs is for someone to dress him in a European Ryder Cup uniform at the majors. He'd be pulling off circus shots, sinking 50-footers and playing to the crowd. He'd probably have 4-5 majors in the bag if he did.

Very true. Instead? Sergio carded two doubles and three bogeys during a front-nine 6-over 41. So much for building on that Players Championship victory.

3:01 p.m.: On-course spy report from my old roommate Trigger, the one I am bailing on in this year's ESPN golf tournament:

    Standing next to Streelman's wife as he puts one to 3 feet on 18. She yells, "What's up, Streel!!"

And before I can even finish the post, a follow-up from Trigger:

    As he makes the birdie putt, she says, 'Yeah, Mikey!' I thought his name was Kevin.

Hmmm … sounds like someone has spent too much time in the sun today -- I'm just not sure if it's my spy or Streelman's wife.

2:49 p.m.: Kevin Streelman makes bogey on his eighth hole (No. 17) to drop to 2-under, once again putting Justin Hicks in sole possession of first place. Sure, he's a no-name, but it's not like this event has had some elite first-round leaders in recent years. Here's the list, courtesy of former ESPN researcher Dave Carabello:

• 2007: Nick Dougherty (Rank: 118)
• 2006: Colin Montgomerie (Rank: 21)
• 2005: Rocco Mediate (Rank: Over 200); Olin Browne (Rank: Over 200)
• 2004: Jay Haas (Rank: 20), Angel Cabrera (Rank: 42); Shigeki Maruyama (Rank: 29)
• 2003: Tom Watson (Rank: Over 200); Brett Quigley (Rank: Over 200)

2:40 p.m.: Chris Devlin shoots a Romo, Brian Bergstol shoots 85 to join Michael Quagliano and Mike Gilmore above the dreaded mark. The wind has barely started blowing and we've already hit the over.

2:34 p.m.: Stuart Appleby hasn't finished in the top-10 at a U.S. Open since 1998, but he's off to a solid start, shooting 2-under 69 today.

Of course, that score won't do much to help him shake off this unfortunate headshot, which officially helped him wrest away the Harry Dunne Award from Charley Hoffman.

2:25 p.m.: Kevin Streelman is still tied for the lead at 3-under, but fellow Dukie Michael Quagliano couldn't avoid getting Romo'd -- he shoots 85 today. A few more big numbers still on the course.

2:12 p.m.: E-mail from Matt in Atlanta:

    I see on Tiger's USGA page that he qualified for this year's U.S. Open through exemption codes 1,3,4,5,8,9,10,12,13 and 17. What USGA exemptions did Tiger not earn?

Here they are …

2. Winner and runner-up of the 2007 U.S. Amateur Championship.
6. Winner of the 2008 Players Championship.
7. Winner of the 2007 U.S. Senior Open Championship.
11. From the 2007 final official PGA European Tour money list, the top 15 money leaders.
14. From the 2008 official PGA European Tour money list, the top two money leaders through May 26.
15. From the 2007 final official Japan Golf Tour money list, the top two money leaders provided they are within the top 75 point leaders of the World Ranking at that time.
16. From the 2007 final official PGA Tour of Australia money list, the top two money leaders provided they are within the top 75 point leaders of the World Ranking at that time.
18. Special exemptions selected by the USGA.

Hey, you wanted to know. Basically, had Tiger played in and won the Players this year, he would have qualified in every category of which he was capable.

Speaking of Woods, here's some of what he had to say after his round.

On the knee: "Oh, I can walk 18 holes. I guess I don't need a cart yet. … Totally different pain [than the Masters]. Augusta was a lot different than this one."

On his opening-hole double-bogey: "Getting into the flow of the round it helps when you hit six shots on the first hole to get into the flow. That's a lot of shots to get into a flow. So, yeah. It's just a terrible way to start. It's one thing to hit the ball left off the first tee, that's fine, pitch out. But the wedge shot, I had all the room short of the hole and I fly it past the hole. That's just a terrible mistake."

On his chances for the remainder of the week: "As of right now what, I'm four back? To make two double bogeys and a 3-putt and only be four back, that's a great position to be in. Because I know I can clean that up tomorrow. I hit the ball pretty good all day, had a couple misses left, but just need to clean up the round just a little bit. Just those two 6s there, I didn't take care of both par-5s on the back nine. I had one that had a 7-iron to 18 and a 6-iron to the other one and I played those holes even par."

2:06 p.m.: Quick check of the bottom of the leaderboard shows Not-So-Happy Gilmore got Romo'd, finishing with a 15-over 86, while some others are still on the course and hot on his heels. Hope you took the over.

1:56 p.m.: Just because there are a handful of players in red numbers (11 right now), don't expect some double-digit under-par score to win this thing. From a guy who shot 2-under 69 today:

    ROCCO MEDIATE: I'm ecstatic. It's day one. Anywhere around par for three or four days is going to be fine. Believe me, I don't know what the winning score is going to be, but when it all comes to the end it will be around par.

1:48 p.m.: E-mail from Scott in Melville, N.Y.:

    Played the Black last Saturday with a fellow from San Diego who was a walk-up. He's played Torrey Pines 100 times. After the front nine at Bethpage, he said, "This is a bunch of b------t. It's 50 times more difficult than Torrey," and then proceeded to walk off the course. To use one of today's catchphrases, he could kind of go, too. He had some game. With Torrey shaping up to what looks like could be a bunch of guys under par and maybe someone winning with an 8- or 10-under, next year could get ugly. Real ugly.

That's such a bunch of blanket. Or bait. Or Bart Bryant.

1:43 p.m.: Kevin Streelman birdies No. 13 and moves to 3-under through four holes.

It's like I've been saying for weeks: It was inevitable that this year's U.S. Open would become a head-to-head battle between Streelman and Hicks. It had to happen sometime.

1:39 p.m.: Tiger Woods acknowledged after his round that his recently surgically repaired left knee was hurting him during play. He looked especially affected while walking up 18 after bombing his drive down the fairway.

1:37 p.m.: That didn't take long:

    JUSTIN HICKS: Who am I? Well, I think I'm another one of the guys out there playing the Nationwide TOUR trying to earn his PGA TOUR card. There's a lot of great young players in America, and we're all out there trying to get -- earn our way up to playing on this big level in front of the cameras and all the media and everything else.

    A lot of times we can get lost in the shuffle down there because it's a difficult world down there. I finished 80th on the Money List there last year, and 80th on the Money List out there for this year. Probably would have got me maybe four or five starts, unless I played well enough to make money and get into the reshuffle. You finish 80th on the Money List on the PGA TOUR, the rest of the year, for the next year, is taken care of. You don't have to think about anything, you're in everything you want to be in.

    So it's a very difficult world. It makes you play hard and always feel like that whatever you're doing in some ways is not necessarily good enough because you're trying to make as many birdies as you can and just keep going lower and lower.

1:35 p.m.: Justin Hicks just finished up what seemed like about a 90-minute press conference after his round. When I have some quotes available, I'll pass 'em along.

1:24 p.m.: Kevin Streelman is picking up where he left off in January, when he opened 67-69 here at Torrey Pines before finishing T-29 at the Buick. He's already 2-under through his first three holes.

I spoke with Streelman on Tuesday and other than being one of the nicest guys on tour that I've spoken with in a while, he also told me that he felt really confident coming back to this course and expected to play well. Of course, you could ask all 156 players before the tourney starts if they expect to play well and none of 'em would say no, but it looks like Streelman actually meant it.

Leads to this e-mail from my buddy Jared, who played college golf with Streelman at Duke, and notes that Joe Ogilvie and Michael Quagliano are other Blue Devils in the field:

    We're clearly no longer a basketball school when you consider the success of the men's and women's golf teams.

Interesting. And here I thought Duke was no longer a basketball school when you consider the lack of success of its men's and women's basketball teams.

1:16 p.m.: For the first time in six career major rounds together, Phil Mickelson shot a better score than Tiger Woods today, posting a 71 to his 72. What does that mean? That he'll start Round 2 one stroke better -- and nothing else. Seriously, let's not jump to any silly conclusions like, "Now Phil has his number!" or "He's not afraid of Tiger anymore!"

It is what it is. He shot one stroke better. That's all.

1:08 p.m.: Checking the Romoers (not to be confused with Andres Romero) shows that Travis Bertoni is 10-over (through 13), Brian Bergstol and Chris Devlin are each 11-over (through 14) and Mike Gilmore is 12-over (through 14).

Speaking of which, I'd like to thank all 349 of you who pointed out that I missed making a Happy Gilmore reference earlier.

So, yes, let's make up for lost time. When he missed a putt earlier, he screamed, "Why you don't you just go home? That's your HOME! Are you too good for your home?"

But then he made one and said, "Happy learned how to putt. UH-OH!"

And now maybe he can win a big paycheck and save grandma's house. The end.

1:02 p.m.: Prop bet from Blake in Parts Unknown:

    Whats higher: Worst score in Round 1 or Lakers score in Game 4 tonight?

I don't pretend to be an NBA expert, but doesn't that all depend on who's refereeing the game tonight?

I'll take the Lakers. Can't call garbage time free throws in golf.

12:58 p.m.: Rickie Fowler can go.

Exactly 75 years after the last amateur to win the U.S. Open, Johnny Goodman in 1933, the Oklahoma State rising sophomore shot an opening-round 1-under 70. He told me the other day that he was really excited about this week, having grown up not too far away. And from everything I hear, he's the type of kid the public would love to root for -- didn't grow up on a country club and doesn't have a swing coach. Pretty cool story so far.

12:54 p.m.: BLOG JINX! From Rich in Parts Unknown:

    The blog jinx remains in effect. Eric Axley bogeys No. 5 to go back to 2-under.

Damn these powers.

12:47 p.m.: Ever play nine holes, get into the groove, then totally play like you-know-what on the back? Steve Stricker knows the feeling. After getting to 4-under through nine (he started on the back), Stricker made a double and four bogeys on the front side to finish with a 2-over 73. And yes, the back nine is playing easier than the front right now.

12:43 p.m.: Hypothetical question from Ryan in Minneapolis:

    What would Lorena Ochoa have shot (assuming an average day for her) if she had played with Romo & Co.?

That's a fantastic question. I honestly have no idea. Really. This course, at 7,643 yards, plays about 1,000-1,200 yards longer than most LPGA courses, so there'd be a little culture shock. But then again, she averages about 270 off the tee and hits it dead straight a lot of the time, which I can't imagine the guys in that foursome were doing. Assuming she played here under these conditions, from the tips, 10 times, I'd guess she'd average a 76 or 77, maybe shooting even-par a few times and 80 or so a few times. It's a great hypothetical question, though. If Golf Digest runs a similar contest again someday, I'd love to see her somehow included.

12:40 p.m.: Eric Axley, who earlier eagled the 18th hole, is now in a three-way tie for the lead with Stuart Appleby and Justin Hicks at 3-under. Good stuff from the lefty, who in six previous U.S. Open rounds is 31-over-par and has never made the cut.

12:34 p.m.: One more WD. Brett Wetterich is out with a wrist injury before teeing off, Andrew Svoboda is in. Apparently, I jumped the gun on Julian Suri as the next alternate. Now he needs one more guy to drop out.

12:32 p.m.: Justin Hicks meet Justin Hicks.

Good find by Ed in Detroit, who sent in this link from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

12:28 p.m.: E-mail from Michael in Parts Unknown:

    Enough with the anti-Phil comments. Guy's won three majors and 31 other tournaments and all you do is make your snide little comments about him.

Yes, very true. My fault for mentioning where he is on the leaderboard. I also apologize for all of the shots I took at him in this piece. Just totally uncalled for. I mean, that was just rude to pick the guy to win. I take it all back.

12:23 p.m.: Some quick housekeeping issues: While I was taking a 3-iron to my laptop, Tiger Woods made his second double of the day at 14, dropping to 1-over. Phil Mickelson birdied 13 and 14 to move up to 1-over and Adam Scott is actually high man in the group now at 2-over.

They're all looking up at Justin Hicks right now, who's in the clubhouse with a 3-under 68. That's the first sub-70 round he's posted since Round 1 of the Nationwide Tour's BMW Charity Pro-Am, often considered "the 79th major."

12:18 p.m.: Getting into dangerous territory here. My readers are starting to, uh, become fond for each other. From Charles in Parts Unknown:

    I think I love Angela. Seriously, I think I love her. First, she watches golf (my wife hates it -- and probably me -- with a passion). Second, she's anonymous (that's hot in itself). Third, she thinks like me (minus the whole "cute" thing). Actually, don't mention that … she may take offense to that.

Angela, meet Charles. He's the married guy who falls in love at first blog post. Charles, meet Angela. He's the 43-year-old dude with a moustache who just used a woman's name so he could add the "cute" reference without having his friends make fun of him.

I think you two will be very happy together.

12:15 p.m.: Uh-oh. Add Brian Bergstol to the Romo list, too. He's at 10-over through 10. Meanwhile, Gilmore just made par on 11.

12:09 p.m.: E-mail from Sumter in Pittsburgh, updating our prop bet:

    What are the odds that Mike Gilmore gets Romo'd? He's 10-over after 10 holes.

I'd say the odds are very, very good. Gilmore, a club pro on Long Island, will need to finish his last eight holes in just 2-over to remain un-Romo'd. If things start going really badly, he could get Timberlake'd.

12:05 p.m.: E-mail from Angela in Parts Unknown:

    Why did the USGA try to get cute with some of the pairings this week? You've got the recent Masters champions group (Weir, Johnson and Immelman), the cute Brits (Casey, Donald and Poulter) and the bombers (Holmes, Watson and Wetterich). I can't believe these pairings were accidental. What's next? Creating pairings with funny names? I can see it now: Singh and Begay, Flesch and Bohn, Lickliter and Langer, Fischer-Price, Purdy-Gay … the possibilities are endless!!!

I'm pretty sure that mentioning at least three of those pairings will get me fired. Awesome.

11:59 a.m.: And … we're back. (I hope.)

E-mail from Chris in San Antonio, Texas:

Maybe there are really two of him and he's playing best ball? Or a scramble?

11:44 a.m.: Computer issues. Back in 10 minutes. Talk amongst yourselves.

11:41 a.m.: Remember: Sometimes a par can feel like a birdie. Tiger Woods drains a 10-footer on 13 to save par yet again, remaining at 1-under. That opening-hole double-bogey is still the only blemish on his card.

11:37 a.m.: Quick check of the bottom of the leaderboard shows Craig Barlow in DFL at 9-over through 16 holes. Even if he bogeys out, he'll still only shoot 83, one stroke shy of a Romo.

11:27 a.m.: Rocco Mediate's career is like one of those horror movies where you think it's finally over, then the killer pops up and gets someone else. And then you think, OK, now it's over … and the killer comes back. And then, well, now, definitely …

You get the point. I mean, this guy missed most of the 1994 season with a back injury, it still hinders his game every so often and yet he can play some pretty good golf at times.

Mediate is currently 3-under through 14 holes, one behind Hicks.

11:19 a.m.: ESPN's Charlie Rymer: "Sometimes a par feels like a birdie." He said that after Woods made a saving 4 at No. 12 to remain at 1-under. Phil Mickelson? Not so much. He bogeyed to fall to 3-over.

11:10 a.m.: On-course spy report from a reporter who needs to remain unnamed for obvious reasons:

    Phil is a mo-ron.

Mickelson tries to thrash one out of the cabbage on 12 and advances it about 5 feet. Ouch. He's at 2-over and counting.

11:08 a.m.: Isn't Justin Hicks that dude from American Idol?

Nothing in his U.S. Open bio about it, so maybe not. Instead, it reveals that Hicks is a 33-year-old from Michigan, who has made the cut in three of six Nationwide events this season, with a best result of T-28. So basically, if you didn't see this coming, you should have opened your eyes. Hicks is in sole possession of the lead at 4-under.

11:05 a.m.: On-course spy report from ESPN producer extraordinaire Charlie Moynihan:

    Yohann Benson says he often gets mistaken for Sergio Garcia. They look identical when their hats are pulled down. Colleen Dominguez saw numerous fans yelling "Sergio" yesterday at the putting green -- only it was Yohann. Benson told us he is pining to play a round of golf with Garcia.

Good stuff. But really, I just wanted to mention Benson so I could have a reason to write … "You Don't Mess With the Yohann!"

One other note from Charlie:

    Celebrity sighting: Former Notre Dame and Seahawks quarterback Rick Mirer.

Be right back. I've gotta go get my Sharpie.

11:00 a.m.: E-mail from Chris in Sacramento about my earlier Johnny Miller comment:

    If you shot a 63 in the Open -- and at Oakmont of all places -- wouldn't you be mentioning that every opportunity you could? I break 80 at the local muni and I'm telling everyone!

You know, that's a very valid point. I'd probably sign my checks with "Jason Sobel 63."

Reminds me of a story I worked on last year. The first time he ever played a match-play tourney, Tiger Woods lost to a kid named James Mohon, who never went on to much renown in golf. If I was Mohon, I'd have business cards that read, "I beat Tiger!!!!!!!" but this guy barely ever talked about it. I guess modesty still counts for something.

10:54 a.m.: On-course spy report from my old roommate Trigger, who has five career birdies:

    Accidentally ran into Tiger/Phil gallery. Got pinned in between 9 green and 10 tee. Worst bottleneck since leaving Police concert at Wrigley Field. Couldn't move for 22 minutes. Lesson learned.

I just feel badly for all those teenyboppers who wanted to catch a glimpse of Adam Scott this week. Won't somebody please think of the children?

10:47 a.m.: According to USGA officials, Mark Calcavecchia withdrew after eight holes due to a "bruised ego."

Ha. When even the guys driving around in Lexuses (Lexi? Lexuseses?) this week start making jokes, you know it's a good day.

Actually, they were only kidding. It was an injured left knee and foot.

10:42 a.m.: Only took three-and-a-half hours, but the Live Blog is finally being live-blogged. Nice of you to join us, fellas. What took so long?

I'm still pining for the good ol' days when someone would live blog your Live Blog without remorse. Now they try to confirm the day before like a dentist appointment. It's all getting so corporate.

10:36 a.m.: Some e-mailers threatened to revoke my man-card when I spoke of Tiger's wardrobe in such, uh, descriptive form, but here is proof that I wasn't just coming up with this stuff out of nowhere.

For the record, I think "ethereal" is a great color on Carl Pettersson.

10:29 a.m.: Paging Ron Sirak. Ron Sirak, please report to the Live Blog.

I'm just taking a wild guess here, but after back-to-back birdies to move to 1-under at the turn, here's guessing Tiger Woods isn't WDing after nine holes. He's right where he wants to be now and I think he'd be happy with another nine at 1-under to shoot 69 for the day, which would be his first sub-70 opening round at the Open since 2002 and '00, both of which -- oh, by the way -- he won.

By the way, one other note from ESPN researcher David Bearman: Entering today, Tiger had played 288 total holes in four PGA Tour stroke-play events this season. He had ZERO double-bogeys. The one on No. 1 was his first of the season.

10:23 a.m.: A few weeks ago, my buddy Bob Harig spoke with Mark Calcavecchia and got this priceless quote from him: "I don't know how much harder and faster the greens will be, but when we were there in January, you could hit it out of the rough. From what I hear, I don't think that will be the case at the Open. It'll be like every other U.S. Open. Stupid.''

Well, I'm not sure if the course setup is stupid, but Calc's score sure was. At 8-over through eight holes, he bailed, withdrawing from the tournament before even completing his first nine.

That leads to this e-mail from Ken in Billings, Mont.:

    So, who's going to have the highest score for the day, a pro or amateur?

It's easy to say an amateur just because they are less experienced, but if you want to play the percentages, go with a pro. Simply put, there is strength (or weakness, as the case may be) in numbers, with 145 pros in this week's field and only 11 amateurs.

10:19 a.m.: Great point from Rob in Dallas:

    A Stricker/Sheehan Best ball would net a 64.

That's nothing. Did you know Johnny Miller once shot a 63 at the U.S. Open? You'll never hear him mention it, but I swear it happened.

10:14 a.m.: Leaderboard update: Steve Stricker just double-bogeyed the first hole (he started on the back nine) to move to 2-under, leaving Patrick Sheehan, Justin Hicks, Stuart Appleby and Robert Karlsson in the lead at 3-under.

I'm kicking myself for not having the cojones to place Karlsson much higher in my pre-tournament rankings. I was scared away by the fact that he hasn't played well in the Open previously (a T-45 and three MCs in four starts), but he's be on fire as of late, with four consecutive top-three results on the European Tour. In fact, I was standing on the practice range with a colleague yesterday and Karlsson was hitting balls near us and I told him, "That could be your U.S. Open winner." Sure, I went up and down the range and said it about eveyrone else, too, but gotta cover my bases, right?

10:10 a.m.: Well, there's some compelling television right there. It's going to air later today on one of the DirecTV and Dish Network applications. They have four different screens going on at once -- one with the broadcast, one with the third hole, one with highlights and one that's "random." I guess I'll be the random guy. If you see me, know that I gave up 10-15 minutes of good blogging time to do this.

And let me be the first to ask the question you're thinking about while reading this: Can we get back to the tournament, please? Yes, we can. 9:59 a.m.: Bear with me: A television crew is about to film me typing on the live blog while I talk about what I'm doing. And yes, we're all wearing Bad Idea Jeans.

9:45 a.m.: E-mail from Brad in D.C.:

    I see that Justin Hicks has yet to make a par through eight holes (five birdies, three bogeys). I wonder what the record is for number of holes played before a par is recorded? Just a hunch, but I'm guessing the dude that shot 157 also holds this record.

Not sure there are records of such things, but I can report that Hicks just birdied No. 18 (he started on the back nine) to begin his opening nine holes without making a par. He's now at 3-under, one behind Steve Stricker.

9:38 a.m.: File this under, "Who'd Have Thunk It?": Adam Scott, who has a broken pinky finger after reportedly slamming it in a car door, is leading his more ballyhooed playing partners. He's even through 5; Tiger and Phil are both 1-over.

There was talk yesterday that Scott was going to WD, when he didn't show up for his scheduled press conference in the interview room. Had that happened, 17-year-old Julian Suri, who was originally the third alternate into this week's field, would have found himself playing with Tiger and Phil. (And would have led to countless Baby Suri headlines.) Instead, he's probably sitting near the practice greens hoping some guy starts having back spasms or something.

9:30 a.m.: E-mail from Brad in Harrisburg, Pa.:

    What are the pros doing after their rounds are over? Obviously, some are hitting balls and working on their game, but they have to do something to unwind at the end of the day.

Honestly, for the most part they do the exact same thing you or I would do after playing 18 holes. They climb into a stretch limo with five statuesque models, sip on the most expensive Cristal money can buy, then unwind on 10,000 thread-count sheets.

No, seriously, they sit around watching sports and drinking a beer or two.

Actually, yesterday I eavesdropped on a pair of college amateurs in this week's field. One was psyched because a relative "brought a whole bunch of DVDs and we can watch them in the hotel room!" The other mentioned possibly going out to catch, "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," which really got them both excited.

Or maybe they were just saying that stuff because they didn't want the old dude with a press credential lurking nearby to hear what they really had planned.

9:21 a.m.: E-mail from Steve in Centreville, Va.:

    Yesterday during Pat Forde's chat I asked him how many times Ian Poulter's wardrobe would get mentioned in the blog this weekend. Since Pat set the line at 23, I feel the need to kick start that count. So, are the white pants "in" at the 108th U.S. Open?

That line from Forde sounds high; I'd take the under. Haven't seen Poulter yet today, but I'm expecting the Torrey Pines tree logo taking up one entire side of his leg.

As for white pants, of the handful of Nike players whose clothing has been scripted beforehand, only Anthony Kim is in white pants today. Tiger is rocking a soft-grey pant/cap combo with a pacific blue dri-fit dispersed stripe polo.

9:13 a.m.: On-course spy report from my old roommate Trigger, who does not own a sand wedge:

    Steve Stricker holes another much tougher bird on 14. Drops in on last rotation of ball.

Stricker has now opened up a two-stroke lead through just seven holes so far. At this pace, he would …

Ah, forget it.

9:08 a.m.: E-mail from Mike in Jersey City, N.J.:

    I guess that Pat Perez as sleeper bandwagon is off to a bumpy start.

Very true. He's now 2-over through three holes on a course he said he's played "more than 1,000 times." Reminds me of a comment that was posted on my 1-156 rankings piece yesterday: "He played the course over 1,000 times, big deal. You can make love to the same woman over 1,000 times also, and not do it the best either."

Classic.

9:04 a.m.: Phil Mickelson is now even through four holes with four straight pars to start. But there's already big news surrounding Lefty today, as he's elected not to carry a driver in the bag. We all know the guy is a noted tinkerer; he's used two drivers in the same round before, often switches putters mid-tourney and carried five wedges in the bag when he won at Colonial last month.

I've got to imagine that, since he knows the course as well as anybody, he's plotted and strategized his way around here and realized that -- based on today's conditions, at least -- driver wasn't necessary.

9:01 a.m.: On-course spy report from my old roommate Trigger, who I once saw kill a crow with his drive:

    Steve Stricker waves away a cameraman set up in his sightline, then calmly drills a 7-footer on 15 to go to 3-under.

That gives him sole possession of the lead. So much for this course only being set up for the longer hitters.

8:53 a.m.: Good note from ESPN researcher David Bearman:

Tiger did not have a double-bogey in any of the four rounds at the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines earlier this year. He only had five bogeys in 72 holes.

In the bunker on No. 4, Woods knocks it to within a foot for what should be a kick-in birdie.

Back to his way-left tee shot on the first hole, it's hardly the first time he's done that with his opening drive. He did the same thing at Carnoustie last year and at The K Club to start the Ryder Cup in 2006, maybe a few other times, too.

It's sort of like the opposite of Phil Mickelson, who always seems to go way left on the 72nd hole at tournaments. If you'd like to read a whole lot more into that than it really means, you could say that Tiger often starts poorly and finishes strong while Phil starts strong and finishes poorly … but I wouldn't say that.

8:45 a.m.: Quick leaderboard check shows Steve Stricker and Patrick Sheehan tied for the lead at 2-under.

Among those one further back is Oklahoma State's Rickie Fowler. I was watching him hit balls on the range a few days ago when Scott Van Pelt came over and watched with me for about a minute before saying, "That dude can go." That's golfspeak for, "He hits the ball really well." Seriously, I waited for Fowler for about 30 minutes so we could do an ESPN.com podcast and he didn't miss one the entire time. Dude can go.

8:41 a.m.: Tiger Woods makes par on No. 2 to stop the double-bogey train after just one hole. Watch out, Lauer. He just may beat you.

Meanwhile, his playing partners Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott are both even through two.

8:37 a.m.: E-mail from Brian in Baltimore:

    Based on the way the course is set up, if you had asked most players last night if they would be happy with a score of even par after four days, how many of them do you think would have taken that?

I actually did ask this question to a bunch of players, though admittedly not many who are actually seen as potential contenders this week. Every player maintained that a red number will win this tournament, unless conditions change drastically in the next few days (course firms up, winds starts blowing, etc.). So yeah, even par will get you into the mix and certainly earn a nice paycheck, but those guys who are in it to win it know they may need to do a little bit better than that.

8:28 a.m.: Great e-mail from Justin in Raleigh, N.C.:

    Did some research and found that the highest score ever to be recorded is a 157 by J.D. Tucker in the first round of the 1898 championship at Myopia Hunt Club.

At Tiger's current pace, he'd still beat Tucker by half-a-hundred.

From GolfWorld's Ron Sirak, who just stopped by: "I see a WD coming. If he shoots 40 on the front side, he'll WD. And if he's hurt, he should. He's got to think long-term."

I'm not buying it. Woods didn't work out and rehab for eight weeks in an attempt to play this week just to WD after nine holes, no matter what he shoots. He's the type of player who, when he's not playing well, always feels like he's very close to turning it around. He'll want to keep grinding away, trying to get into the clubhouse at 2- or 3-over rather than picking up and walking off.

At least, I think he will.

8:24 a.m.: While I still maintain that I'm covering a golf tournament and not a TV program (meaning I'm not hear to discuss which shots are being shown, what the announcers are saying, etc.), I'm getting a lot of questions about ESPN's current coverage. What you're watching right now is a two-hour preview show that is frequently giving live look-ins from the course. The actual U.S. Open telecast starts at 1 ET/10 PT. Just wanted to clear that up.

8:20 a.m.: After getting into trouble off the tee, Tiger Woods airmails his third shot on the par-4, later misses a 10-footer for bogey and winds up with a double to start. He's now four shots off the lead, on pace to shoot 107, which would be seven shots worse than Matt Lauer.

8:16 a.m.: E-mail from Tom in Simi Valley, Calif.:

    When does the USGA get rid of the antiquated 18 hole p-word and copy the British and PGA and go with the four-hole playoff instead? I'm attending the Open on Sunday and I can tell you if there is a p-word, I won't be there. I already have a tee time lined up to play somewhere else. I know that thousands of others potentially won't be able to attend for myriad reasons as well. All it does is deprive a bunch of people who paid to see the winner not get to see the winner.

Couldn't agree more. Nobody likes it. Honestly, nobody. Players don't like it, fans don't like it and media really don't like it. But the USGA insists that a sudden death or four-hole playoff isn't sufficient enough to crown a champion. I'm not buying it.

Speaking of which, good work by Tom using "p-word" rather than, well, the p-word itself. Those of 'round these parts with potential Monday tee times don't mention such a word, even in passing.

8:07 a.m.: Tiger hits driver off the first tee … way left.

His knee must be killing him! He never should have taken eight weeks off! He's obviously rattled having to play with Phil! He obviously can't handle this brutal U.S. Open setup!

Sorry, just figured I'd jump to all of those conclusions so you wouldn't have to.

8:06 a.m.: Not sure if anyone has talked about this or not, but Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott -- the world's three top players -- are all playing together today. Hmmm … someone should write a story about that or something. Here they go …

8:04 a.m.: On-course spy report from my old roommate Trigger, who has not carded a birdie since 2005:

    K.J. Choi is on fire. Just missed holing out from the fairway on 12. Rattled the stick.

8:00 a.m.: 1,447 words in the first hour, if you're scoring at home. According to Golf Digest's Jaime Diaz, "That's great. You're only going to live 'til you're 52, but that's great."

Good times!

7:57 a.m.: Quick bit of trend-spotting so far: With 24 players having completed at least one hole, all players combined are only 4-over-par, with three at 2-under (K.J. Choi, Patrick Sheehan and Steve Stricker) and three others at 1-under. Don't want to read too much into this too early, but so far players' claims that this venue is more conducive to scoring than previous Open sites is holding up.

7:51 a.m.: E-mail from Doug in Richmond, Va.:

    Will you get to play Torrey Pines after the Open? If so, call your shot: Romo'd, Timberlake'd or Lauer'd?

Haven't looked into it yet -- for all we know, there could be a 12-man, 18-hole p-word on Monday -- but I could pull off the first-ever Double Timberlake. OK, maybe not … but I strongly encourage you to use this reference (along with the Double Romo or Double Lauer) the next time you tee it up with that guy in your company's IT department who clearly hasn't played since his grandfather gave him those clubs back in 1972.

7:46 a.m.: Patrick Sheehan has birdied the third hole to move to 2-under, tied for the lead with K.J. Choi. Let's quickly break down Sheehan's career numbers with those of his LPGA namesake:

• Patty Sheehan: 35 career victories (last in 1996), six majors, $5,513,409 in career earnings.
• Patrick Sheehan: 0 career victories, 0 majors, $3,191,556 in career earnings.

Where is the equality, people?

7:41 a.m.: First prop bet of the day from Scott in Parts Unknown:

    More rounds today that are Romo or worse (84)?

Love it. This one is a slam dunk. I'll set the over/under at 1.5 players who could shoot worse than Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo did on Friday.

And yes, we can also use "Romo" as a verb. If a player shoots 84 or worse, we will consider him to have been "Romo'd."

Let's just hope no one gets Timberlake'd or Lauer'd.

7:36 a.m.: E-mail from Matthew in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.:

    You need to incorporate more Caddyshack lines into the blog -- like the Al Czervik Memorial Award to Sean O' Hair, for his best impression of "Oooh, my arm, I think it's broken!"

Yeah, that would be great and everything, except for the fact that O'Hair withdrew with a pulled chest muscle, meaning your line makes no sense whatsoever.

So you've got that going for you. Which is nice.

7:31 a.m.: And yes, as it's been pointed out by a few e-mailers already, it took less than 30 minutes for our first BLOG JINX! of the week. Sorry, D.A. It's a gift. A wicked, wicked gift.

7:29 a.m.: You're not going to believe this, but …

D.A. Points has taken a dramatic tumble from atop the leaderboard. Much like Phil Mickelson at the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, Points took a one-stroke lead, but couldn't hold on, making bogey on No. 2 to fall to even-par with 70 left to play. What a story.

Meanwhile, Patrick Sheehan takes the lead at 1-under -- and no, he didn't used to be former LPGA player Patty Sheehan.

7:21 a.m.: First e-mail of the week isn't funny or snarky or threatening at all. From Kevin in Philly:

    I've heard a lot about the morning cloud cover and fog and a possible delay. What are the conditions like this morning?

It's cool (maybe 60-65 degrees right now) and overcast, but apparently the June Gloom is just a non-rhyming myth, as there is no fog delay. The weather is supposed to be pretty close to perfect for the next four days, with some wind kicking up in the afternoons off the ocean (as always), but nothing too major.

For the record, 35 e-mails in the first 21 minutes of live blogging may or may not be a record. Looking to surpass the 2,900 that I received during Masters week, and I've got a good feeling since the princess of Ghana hasn't even checked in with her offer of $48 million yet.

7:17 a.m.: If the tournament ended right now …

D.A. Points is the 2008 U.S. Open champion!

With a birdie on the first hole, Points is now 1-under through one, on pace to finish 72-under-par for the tourney, which would be a record or something. Full swing analysis coming shortly.

In related news, Robert Garrigus and Craig Barlow each bogeyed his first hole and are on pace to miss the cut (presumably) at 36-over-par, which would leave them 72 shots behind leader Points at the end of play tomorrow.

7:09 a.m.: Oh, and one other thing: I know it may be 10:09 a.m. where you are (or even 9:09 or 8:09 or some other :09 after the hour), but the first e-mailer to write in with something to the effect of, "Your blog is three hours behind!" loses his license to read anything about the tournament. In fact, you can't even watch. Just go sit in the corner and wait for the agate in tomorrow's newspaper.

7:08 a.m.: Let me save you some time. Here are the popular questions entering this tournament, the ones I have been asked during every single TV and radio interview I've done this week, along with my 10-cent answers:

• How will Tiger's knee hold up? (I have no idea. He says it's fine. We'll see.)
• How will being paired with Phil affect Tiger? (Not one bit.)
• How will being paired with Tiger affect Phil? (Not one bit.)
• How will the course play? (Long, but not as difficult as recent Open venues.)
• How 'bout them qualifiers? (It's the American dream.)
• Who's your sleeper pick? (I like Pat Perez, but I'm always a sucker for the homer.)
• Who's your pick to win? (I like Phil Mickelson, but I'm about 0-for-40 trying to pick these things.)

7:03 a.m.: First spy report of the day comes from … me.

Entering the facilities at 6:42 this morning, I saw Tiger Woods heading toward the practice green on crutches before hopping on caddie Steve Williams' back for the final 10 feet or so.

I'm kidding, I'm kidding. He looked fine. But seriously, if you were Tiger, wouldn't you just walk with a very noticeable limp every once in a while to throw people off? Or after hitting a tee shot during a practice round, just yell, "Owwwww!" before smiling and jogging down the fairway? Seriously, if everyone is going to scrutinize this knee injury to such a monumental degree, he should have some fun with it.

7:00 a.m.: Good morning from Torrey Pines, where the 108th U.S. Open Championship is getting under way right … about … now.

My name is Jason Sobel and in case you haven't seen my major championship live blog before, what took you so long? Here's the deal: I'm at the course updating this thing every few minutes or so, speaking with players, tournament officials, on-course "spies" and just about everyone else who has something interesting to say about this tournament, either directly or indirectly. If that includes you, good news; I'll also be taking questions, comments, suggestions, threats and charitable contributions via e-mail, so hit me at the above address early and often.

I guess the atmosphere that I've tried to create here is that I'm a friend first and a golf blogger second and probably an entertainer third.

Keep clicking that little refresh button to stay updated throughout the day and feel free to live blog my live blog, if you're so inclined (wouldn't be the first time). Just don't live blog the live blog of the live blog or else the Internet will explode and I'd have to find a real job.

OK, now I'm starting to feel like the starter on the first tee who explains the 90-degree rule in detail, informs you that blue flags mean deep pin placements and generally talks too much while slowing down play before you even tee off. So I'll shut up now.

And with that, let's get going …

Jason Sobel covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at usopenblog@gmail.com.

Jason Sobel | email

Golf Editor, ESPN.com
Jason Sobel, who joined ESPN in 1997, earned four Sports Emmy awards as a member of ESPN's Studio Production department. He became ESPN.com's golf editor in July 2004.