- Jason Sobel, Senior Golf Writer
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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. (All times are Pacific time.)
UPDATE: The third round blog will begin at 2:30 p.m. PT.
Have a question or comment for Sobel? E-mail him at email@example.com.
• Round 1
7:15 p.m.: One last note before I close it up for the evening. Miguel Angel Jimenez shoots 66, the best score at the Open since Paul Casey in last year's second round.
And with that, I'm out. Have a good one. See you tomorrow from Torrey Pines.
7:01 p.m.: On-course spy report from Trigger serious one:
- After tee shots on the ninth hole, Adam Scott's caddie [Tony Navarro] was last one up the fairway. A heckler who had been riding him for a few holes said something that put him over the top, and Scott's caddie started after the fan. He was restrained and cops forcibly subdued the fan. Could see the skirmish from across fairway but this is what marshals said happened. They said it looked like Scott's caddie would have gone into crowd if not restrained.
This is coming thirdhand, from a marshal on the course through another source, but pretty crazy stuff.
6:55 p.m.: Just spoke with Rocco Mediate for a few minutes after his post-round hews conference. He told me that while some guys might rather win a Masters or a British Open, he's a U.S. Open guy through and through. As for Tiger, he said, "There's nothing I can do about him, so I just can't worry about him."
The entire interview should be posted on ESPN.com later this evening.
6:44 p.m.: Going to try to talk to Rocco Mediate for a few minutes. Back in a few
6:38 p.m.: Great note from ESPN researcher David Bearman. Tiger Woods' back-nine 30 (which was on the course's first nine holes) is tied for the fourth-lowest nine-hole score in U.S. Open history. The top three:
• 2003: Vijay Singh, 29, Round 2, second nine
• 1996: Neal Lancaster, 29, Round 2, second nine
• 1995: Neal Lancaster, 29, Round 4, second nine
That's not a typo. Two of the best three nine-hole scores in U.S. Open history were shot by Neal Lancaster in consecutive U.S. Opens. Take that, Tiger Woods.
6:33 p.m.: As Tiger Woods prepares to hit a 6-footer for birdie on No. 9, my colleague Bob Harig makes a terrific point: "He's having Stevie help him line it up. He doesn't do that very often."
Either Steve Williams helped Woods pick out a line or just confirmed what he already saw, but Tiger drains it to shoot 68 and enter the weekend in a three-way tie for second at 2-under.
6:29 p.m.: After being forced to lay up when he hit his drive into the rough on 18, Stuart Appleby drains a lengthy birdie putt to move to 3-under, in sole possession of the lead entering the weekend.
Those guys at 8-over? Trunk-slammers.
6:27 p.m.: Spy report from the range:
According to an observer, when Tiger Woods was making his birdie run a little while ago, every time he hit a shot, players on the range would stop hitting balls and watch him before going back to their routine.
6:18 p.m.: The bad news for first-round co-leader Justin Hicks? He followed his opening-day 68 with an 80 today. The good news? It's still good enough to make the cut. He's at 6-over going into the weekend, tied for 53rd place right now.
6:13 p.m.: E-mail from Matt in NYC:
- Here's a fantastic question for Tiger for his post-round press conference: "
Tiger, with your great second half today and your green shirt, did you feel like you were playing for the Celtics?" He would LOVE that. Give it a whirl.
Sure. Considering he referred to the Lakers as "we" the other day, I think he'd be ecstatic about the comparison.
6:10 p.m.: E-mail from Anthony in Germantown, Md.:
- The best thing for Stuart Appleby (besides another birdie on the final hole) is for Tiger to stay at 1-under. He hasn't done well paired with Woods, especially in majors.
Very true. At last year's Masters, Appleby led by one entering the final round. Paired with Woods, he shot 75 to finish in a share of seventh place.
6:08 p.m.: Rocco Mediate misses the eagle, taps in for birdie to finish his round at 2-under. But the 8-over crew can't rest easy just yet. If Stuart Appleby can make birdie on the last, they're out.
6:01 p.m.: Rocco Mediate going for the par-5 18th green in two and hits a fairway wood close to pin high.
In related news, Zach Johnson, J.B. Holmes, Jesper Parnevik and seven others might need to start packing their bags. If Mediate makes his putt for eagle, it'll knock out all the players at 8-over.
5:47 p.m.: Entering the weekend, Derek Fathauer of the University of Louisville is low amateur at 4-over with one hole to play.
OK, maybe not.
5:45 p.m.: The three-peat is over. Woods make a 4 at the par-4 sixth hole to stay at 1-under.
5:24 p.m.: Proving impervious to all jinxes, Tiger Woods drains another birdie putt on No. 5 to move into red figures for the first time today. He has now posted a 3 on each of the first five holes on the front side (his back nine).
The secret? (Other than the fact that I obviously angered him with my criticism of the cart path shot on No. 1.) On-course spy Trigger may be onto something:
- Tiger is the only guy I've seen eat apple, not banana.
It's obvious. Potassium kills putting strokes.
Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson counters with a birdie on 5 as well, and moves to 2-over.
5:20 p.m.: Getting some not-very-believable e-mails as we get into Happy Hour here on the West Coast. This one didn't have a name attached, likely to protect the guilty:
- I am in San Diego to go to the Open on Sunday and we heard the roar from Tiger's birdie on 4 from 20 miles away!
I'll declare shenanigans on that one, but the golf part is true. Woods made birdie on 4 and moves up to even-par overall.
5:12 p.m.: On-course spy reports from my former roommate Trigger have been waning. I think he's going to miss the cut. A few late ones:
- I am in a tree on edge of 4
life is good.
Just got kicked out of tree by a female cop who looked like Gary Busey.
Sure you did.
4:50 p.m.: E-mail from Jason in Parts Unknown (not me):
- Wow you just mention Oliver Wilson and it's an insta-bogey.
You see, there's this little thing called the Blog Jinx
4:50 p.m.: Phil Mickelson hits a great second shot that rolls just past the pin and travels 25 feet away. No problem, though. He drains the 25-footer for par and a Tiger-like fist pump.
4:44 p.m.: Getting a bunch of questions asking about Phil Mickelson's round and, well, it looks eerily similar to yesterday's round.
In Round 1, he started with four pars then made three straight bogeys. In Round 2, he started with four pars, then bogeyed three of the next four. In Round 1, he made his first birdie on his 10th hole. In Round 2, he made his first birdie on his ninth hole. In Round 1, he birdied three of the last six to shoot even-par 71. In Round 2? We'll have to wait and see.
For right now, though, it doesn't look good, as Mickelson's tee shot on the par-3 third hits the back slope and rolls all the way into the bad stuff.
4:37 p.m.: Tiger Woods obviously has this reverse jinx thing down pat. Since I've criticized his swing from the cart path on No. 1, he's made two birdies and is now at 1-over for the tournament, even for the day.
4:33 p.m.: E-mail from John in Gainesville, Fla.:
- Just wanted to point out that our first round co-leader is on his way to potentially getting Romo'd today. Justin Hicks is
8-over through 13; playing bogey golf the rest of the way ties him with the Cowboys QB.
And if he does, it probably comes with an MC, too.
4:29 p.m.: A new co-leader has emerged. Oliver Wilson, a 27-year-old from Mansfield, England, who owns four runner-up finishes on the European Tour this year, is now 2-under overall.
In related news, he is also low Wilson in the tournament right now, leading Dean and Jeff.
4:23 p.m.: Stuart Appleby makes bogey on 12 and drops to 2-under, which means that -- as of right now -- every player at 8-over or better would make the cut. That currently includes 96 total competitors and while that number will certainly diminish as play comes to a close this afternoon, it's still a whole lot of guys to be going a full 72.
4:21 p.m.: And that's why he's Tiger and I'm just a guy writing about him.
Woods makes birdie, getting up and down from the cart path on No. 1, to move to 2-over. that's a three-shot swing on that hole from yesterday and, if he cares, gives him reason to say, "I told you so," next time he sees me.
4:15 p.m.: What the heck is Tiger Woods doing? With his ball resting next to the cart path on No. 1, Woods decided to take a stance on the path itself rather than taking relief, where he potentially could have incurred a worse lie.
So Tiger takes a lash at it, slips on the path and limps away. He doesn't rarely make a bad strategic decision on the course, but he may have needed to think that one over a bit more, taking that left knee into consideration.
3:57 p.m.: So, I went to the U.S. Open and a game of dodgeball broke out
ESPN.com producer extraordinaire Anthony Spadacenta was heading over to the merchandise tent here at the course. He wanted to know if I needed anything, so I asked him to pick up one of these rubber, oversized golf balls (basically, a smaller-sized kickball, but it's white and has the U.S. Open logo on it) to give away as a gift to someone.
Turns out, he couldn't get one. They're still in stock, but the volunteer in the store told him these balls would not be sold when Tiger and Phil are on the course because people were throwing them at the star players. Not sure whether this is just a pre-emptive strike or such actions were actually taking place -- I haven't heard or seen anything else about this -- but that's what Anthony was told.
3:54 p.m.: Here is my interview with Davis Love III. Eat your heart out, Larry King.
3:51 p.m.: Rocco Mediate bogeys No. 10, Stuart Appleby birdies No. 9 and all of a sudden, we have a tie atop the leaderboard, with both players at 3-under, two shots clear of anyone else.
3:46 p.m.: E-mail from David in Boone, N.C.:
- So you're telling me Gary Wolstenholme, a 47-year-old amateur from England, was just waiting around in San Diego in case he got in as an alternate? Man, the dollar must be even weaker than I thought.
Not only that, but he also has a golf reporter on the bag.
No wonder he finished DFL. We all know golf reporters can't caddie.
3:35 p.m.: After opening with a pair of pars, Justin Hicks has made a double-bogey, six bogeys, a par and a birdie in his last nine holes, which adds up to a 7-over 41 for that stretch.
Watch out, Rod Pampling.
3:22 p.m.: Another e-mail from Brian in South Carolina:
- I just wanted to point out that you must have provided some motivation for Jimmy Henderson. He courageously parred the last two holes to finish 155th.
Nuh-uh. I'm still claiming this as a dead-on correct selection. When I posted my ranking of all 156 players, Gary Wolstenholme wasn't yet in the field; he didn't get in as an alternate until later. So, of course I would have had Henderson beating him. I'm claiming that one as a correct selection. Maybe my only one of the week.
Oh, and if you ever need any AstroTurf? Call Jimmy. Seriously, he's an AstroTurf salesman.
3:10 p.m.: Rocco Mediate still owns a three-stroke lead at 4-under through eight holes. Though he only owns three career top-10s in 43 major starts, Rocco is no stranger to major leaderboards.
At the 2006 Masters, he was T-4 after the third round, but shot 80 on Sunday and finished T-36. And at the 2005 U.S. Open, he led after the first round but finished T-6.
2:57 p.m.: Here is the link to my interview with D.J. Trahan. Eat your heart, Mike Wallace.
2:44 p.m.: First on-course spy report from my man Buck:
- There are 10 photographers following Rocco Mediate right now.
Yep, took him all day to come up with that one.
2:40 p.m.: Reverse jinx for Tiger? Just after he gets mentioned in the Live Blog, Woods eagles 13 and moves back to even-par for the day, 1-over overall.
2:33 p.m.: E-mail from reader supreme Brian in South Carolina:
- Does the name Rod Pampling ring a bell? I think Justin Hicks has a chance to equal that amazing accomplishment.
Great call. At the 1999 British Open, Pampling shot an opening-round 71 to take the 18-hole lead, but followed with an 86 to miss the cut. After climbing to the top of the leaderboard with his 3-under 68 yesterday, Hicks is now 5-over for the day through seven holes, down to a share of 21st place.
2:19 p.m.: Yes, I know I haven't mentioned Tiger or Phil since they've teed off, but I was getting there. Mickelson is cruising along with three straight pars, but Woods has bogeyed Nos. 10 and 12 to drop to 3-over.
If you're reading this, chances are you're not following Tiger and Phil (oh, and Adam -- him too) right now, but Bob Smiley's recent piece from the San Diego Union-Tribune is definitely worth a read, just for the entertainment value.
(A personal aside: Bob, there's your link. Where's my pizza and beer?)
No, seriously. He didn't pay me off. It's good stuff. Really.
2:16 p.m.: Quick leaderboard update shows Rocco Mediate at 4-under, thanks to birdies on two of his first four holes. Among those rooting against Rocco? Vijay Singh (7-over), Zach Johnson (8-over) and Justin Rose (9-over), each of whom is hoping to make the cut based on the rule that includes every player within 10 shots of the lead.
2:12 p.m.: Just spoke with Davis Love III for a few minutes. He told me he's very happy with how he's putting right now, just wants to hit a few more greens in regulation during the weekend rounds. He also has a great feel for this course, having won the Buick here in 1996.
Along with the Trahan interview, I hope to have the Love Q&A posted here later this afternoon.
1:57 p.m.: Going to chat with Davis Love III. Back in a few.
1:47 p.m.: Sometimes you smoke the course. Sometimes the course smokes you.
Defending champ Angel Cabrera -- who huffed and puffed his way to the winner's circle at Oakmont before giving up cigarettes later in the year -- can slam the trunk and get on with a free weekend away from golf. Cabrera shot 79-76 and will miss the cut. The last defending champ to become a defending chump? Michael Campbell, who won it in 2005 and was 12-over in 2006 to miss the cut.
1:38 p.m.: So much for today's Tony Romo prop bet. Of the morning rounds, Artemio Murakami was the high score, besting the Cowboys QB by a stroke. That over/under of 7.5? Uh, hope you had the under, office gamblers.
1:31 p.m.: I know I'm late with this one, but Davis Love III has matched D.J. Trahan's scores of 72-69 to hold a share of the current clubhouse lead at 1-under. Love didn't play in the Masters earlier this year -- the first major championship he missed since the 1990 U.S. Open -- but he went through sectional qualifying for this week's event and got into the field. Would be a great story if he could make a run at his second career major victory at the age of 44.
What's he doing well? Everything. So far, Love is averaging 312 yards off the tee (field average is 289), has reached 64 percent of greens in regulation (field average is 53 percent) and is averaging 1.56 putts per hole (field average is 1.68).
1:26 p.m.: Justin Hicks finds the front bunker on the par-3 third hole, resulting in a bogey that drops him to 2-under for the tournament.
That leads to this e-mail from Andy in Greenville, S.C.:
- I'm guessing if Justin Hicks wins the open he automatically gets status on the PGA Tour. What if he finishes in the top-10? Would he get any kind of status?
You're right with the first guess. A win gets him full status for five years. A top-eight finish gets him into next year's Masters. A top-10 gets him into next week's event, the Travelers Championship. And a top-15 gets him into the Open again next year.
1:22 p.m.: Just spoke with D.J. Trahan for a few minutes. He told me that while he doesn't necessarily "hate" this course ("I don't hate any golf course," he said), he doesn't really like it, either. Trahan suggested that this could very well be his last trip to Torrey Pines, but intimated that he wanted to make the most of it, too.
Hoping to have video of the interview to include in the Live blog in a little while.
1:05 p.m.: Justin Hicks pipes his drive down the first fairway en route to making par to open the round. Gotta be a good feeling after holding a share of the overnight lead.
12:57 p.m.: Sorry about the delay. Back now and hoping to speak with D.J. Trahan in a few minutes. Until then
E-mail from Shane in Nashville:
- What's gotten into Padraig Harrington? Did he eat his Wheaties or maybe a bowl of Lucky Charms this morning?
The reigning British Open champ is 4-under for the day, playing his final hole and is on the verge of posting the first bogey-free round of the tournament. It's actually pretty reminiscent of his U.S. Open performance two years ago, when he went 73-69-74-71 to finish solo fifth.
12:41 p.m.: D.J. Trahan misses a 10-foot birdie putt on his final hole, but taps in for par and a 2-under 69. He's in the clubhouse at 1-under going into the weekend and will be heading to the interview room soon. I'll let you all know what he has to say about his round.
12:27 p.m.: E-mail from Pat in Boca Raton, Fla.:
- Sitting here in the office, I suddenly have a "need" to go to a U.S. Open. I've been to plenty of golf tournaments, but never an Open. I was curious as to where the future sites are so I can start making plans now.
Honestly, I don't want to sound like a shill for the USGA, but you can't go wrong with any of the next six sites. They are:
• 2009: Bethpage State Park (Black Course)
• 2010: Pebble Beach Golf Links
• 2011: Congressional Country Club
• 2012: The Olympic Club
• 2013: Merion Golf Club
• 2014: Pinehurst No. 2
• 2015: Chambers Bay Golf Course
My personal order of preference? Pebble (one of my favorite places in the world); Bethpage (grew up 20 mins from the course; the '02 Open was the most fun I ever had covering an event); Chambers Bay (looks incredible); Merion (old-school charm); Olympic (ditto); Congressional (I shot a 1?? there a few weeks ago -- and no, I'm not filling in the question marks); and Pinehurst (nothing against it, but some course has to be last).
12:20 p.m.: E-mail from Russ in Houston. He found Beth. And (s)he's wearing the shirt.
Um, here (s)he is.
It's just so nice to have fans.
12:13 p.m.: Sporting the understated gray slacks, Sergio Garcia makes birdie on his final hole to close out with a 70. Nice comeback for the Players champion, after that brutal start to yesterday's round. He's at 4-over and well within striking distance of the lead this weekend.
Speaking of which, I know some of you will be asking this question soon, so I might as well just do it myself.
E-mail from Jason at Torrey Pines:
- How close to the lead do potential contenders need to be entering the weekend?
Great question, Jason. Thanks for asking.
First of all, it depends on who's leading. If Justin Hicks is the 36-hole leader, I trust more players will be able to catch him over the weekend than if it were, oh, Tiger Woods. But I'd still say those within four strokes are right in the mix, within five are OK and within six still have a chance, too.
That said, every single U.S. Open champion this decade has been 20th or better entering the weekend. This isn't a tournament in which someone can post 65 to make a huge leap, so keeping close tabs on the leaders is crucial.
12:09 p.m.: Yesterday we were told by the USGA that Mark Calcavecchia had withdrawn due to a "bruised ego" before they finally confirmed that -- wait for it -- they were only joking. (About the ego, not the WD.)
Now comes a report from tournament officials that Ian Poulter has withdrawn to "poor wardrobe selection." Ha! Hilarious!
No, but seriously, he's hurt. I'm guessing hyperextended middle finger, but it's just a guess.
12:05 p.m.: E-mail from Allen in Parts Unknown:
- OK, seriously. I am a believer now. This Blog Jinx is getting out of control. Poor Svoboda. It's like an entity. It's the beast. It must be stopped.
It's so powerful that I am powerless to stop it. Wish I could.
11:56 a.m.: Popular question today, but I haven't been able to give it even a decent estimation until now. Let's go with Mike from Indianapolis out of the dozens who have inquired as to the same thing:
- Still too early to start projecting the cut line?
Well, it's top-60 and ties, plus anyone within 10 of the lead. Let's say Justin Hicks remains at 3-under after Round 2. That would mean anyone at 7-over or better would make the cut. (Right now, that's 108 players, but will steadily decrease as the afternoon progresses.) Of course, I'm already on record as saying I think the lead will be 1-under, which means anyone at 9-over sticks around for the weekend. (Right now, that's 127 players -- or 81 percent of the field.)
What does it all mean? Unless someone can pull away with a nice score this afternoon that keeps him at 3- or 4-under, we're going to see an awful lot of players competing for 36 more holes. And remember: There is no MC-DNF at the U.S. Open, so players who make the cut will be going the distance.
11:43 a.m.: E-mail from Daniel in New York City:
- I worked alongside Andrew Svoboda as a caddie for years at Winged Foot. Really nice kid. I always wondered how he could chase around those old guys shooting 110 on the West course when he was such a player himself. It's great to see him seizing the opportunity. Hope the Blog Jinx doesn't hit after you post this.
I hope not, either. He's a great story and playing well right now, at 2-under through 11 today and 4-over for the tournament.
11:36 a.m.: I don't even know why I bother anymore. Blog Jinx. Streelman makes double on 15, drops to 5-over for the day and 2-over for the championship. Sorry, dude. My bad.
11:30 a.m.: Checking in on the Man of Streel -- or, as I prefer, especially for the U.S. Open, Streel American Hero -- shows that Kevin Streelman is holding things together nicely. He had that triple-bogey on No. 3, but has played his other 13 holes in even-par today. Holding steady at even-par for the tourney.
11:14 a.m.: E-mail from my editor Kevin, who (I suppose) could just insert this into the Live Blog if he wanted to since he's the editor or now that it's going in, he could always remove it. Whatever, here it is:
- Dress like a freak, play like a freak. Sergio Garcia shot 76 yesterday, right? Lime green shirt.
He's 1-over through 14 today? Normal shirt, grey slacks.
He's right about Sergio's scoring; after playing his first seven holes in 6-over yesterday, he's even through his last 25 holes. But the lime green shirt? I actually liked it. Definitely a major upgrade over Burger King or Tweety Bird.
11:02 a.m.: Well, if scoring conditions are indeed tougher this afternoon, as I suspect them to be, then even-par is going to be a very good score. Of the 78 players currently on the course, only one is in red numbers for the tournament -- Geoff Ogilvy at 1-under-par. Just a guess, but that could be the leading score at the end of the day, too.
10:48 a.m.: On-course spy report from my former roommate Trigger, who was surprised that he didn't receive a restraining order after following Mrs. Streelman throughout yesterday afternoon while watching her husband play golf:
- Ian Poulter trying to punch out of rough on 12
duffs it. Then he slams his club down and flips the bird to his ball.
Poulter is currently 7-over, which is strange because I thought he was going to win this week. From a Golf World (U.K.) article:
The Englishman, asked by the magazine to predict the winner of the first major of the season at the Masters in April, replied: "Put Tiger down for that one."
For the year's second major at the U.S. Open, he said: "You can put me down for that one."
Glad to see I'm not the only one who can't pick a winner at these things.
10:39 a.m.: Wow. I swear I posted that last entry before looking back at the leaderboard and seeing that Trahan bogeyed No. 12. The Blog Jinx is working quicker than Colin Montgomerie's temper.
10:36 a.m.: D.J. Trahan is holding steady at 2-under for the day and 1-under overall -- surprising because he's admittedly struggled with his putting throughout his career. From his post-tournament press conference after winning this year's Bob Hope Classic:
- Q: Who do you work with on your putting?
D. J. TRAHAN: Actually, a guy who takes lessons from my dad. His name is Jack Moore. And he's a fantastic putter. And we're working on his long game. But the man can putt. And he's kind of just brought me back to basics and really working on some simple fundamentals. And it's amazing how sometimes when you kind of lose focus, I think a lot of guys maybe just go out and hit putts, and I felt into that all I would do is go out to the green, drop three balls, and just putt around. And I finally realized I'm not getting any work done here. My putting is not going to improve just by sitting out here and putting around for 45 minutes.
So we worked on getting a good practice routine and working on fundamentals and it's been a big boost for me.
So, Trahan takes lessons from a guy who takes lessons from his dad? Um, that's interesting.
10:25 a.m.: If all those punners earlier got DQ'd, then what's the opposite? Champion of the Live Blog? Whatever it is, Beth in Seattle may have just clinched it:
- I am loving your blog as always. If I were at the Open, I would wear a "I (heart) Sobel" shirt. But let's talk about what's really important at Torrey Pines this Friday. If the Mint Julep is the official drink of the Masters, then what is the drink for the Open this year? And what will you be imbibing? Maybe a John Daly?
First off, I thought the Mint Julep was for the Kentucky Derby, not the Masters. And I assume a John Daly would be something like a Long Island Iced Tea with beer, scorpions, tequila worms and donuts in it.
But that shirt well, let's just say the ante has been upped in the long, storied tradition of golf blogging. We've reached a new frontier, my friends, and I like where this is going. Is Beth a 50-year-old fat guy who's leering at me from the other side of the media center? Probably. But someone wants to show outward support for a golf blogger, so who am I to say no?
10:14 a.m.: Still more than three hours until Tiger Woods tees off, but never too early for a solid Woods story. I received an e-mail from Jim in Cypress, Calif., who mentioned he grew up around the corner from Tiger, so I asked him to elaborate on that. Here's what he wrote:
- I'll never forget the first time I played with him at a small municipal par-3 course near our area (Heartwell in Long Beach, Calif.). He was playing with his father; I was just learning the game and playing with my grandfather. We were pretty young -- 6 or 7. I could barely hit the ball 50 yards. Meanwhile, I think Tiger just about parred every hole. The brilliance was there from an early age.
He lived across the street from a small park with large trees. He would hit golf balls from his front yard across the street and over these massive trees -- it was a game to him. He still owns the house (his Learning Center is only a few miles away; whenever he's back in town, he still visits his parent's home).
By high school, everyone knew he was special; everyone knew he was going places. Meanwhile, I was working my way through high school at a local sandwich shop (and lucky enough to make the golf team at a rival high school). After rounds at the nearby Navy Golf Course, he would stop by for a sandwich He was always gracious and kind. One day, I was kidding with him and asked him for an autograph. He agreed and signed a paper copy of the sandwich shop menu. That was 15 years ago. I still have the menu.
That's a fantastic story. OK, let's start the eBay bidding for that menu at $500. Do I hear $500?
10:10 a.m.: Shhhh. No one talk to Charles Howell III in between innings. He's currently pitching a perfect game.
Chucky Threesticks has started bogey-bogey-bogey-bogey-bogey-bogey in his first six holes. The bad news: That's awful. The good news: At this pace, he'll still break 90.
By the way, Howell happens to be one of the nicest guys in the game. It's too bad his play hasn't been as nice lately.
10:05 a.m.: Just an FYI: My colleague Bob Harig is currently chatting in The Show. You know, if there's anything you wanted to ask him about
9:57 a.m.: E-mail from Lauren in Chicago:
If you see Luke Donald today, tell him:
Go U Northwestern
Break right through that line
With our colors flying we will cheer you all the time!
U Rah Rah!
Go U Northwestern
Fight for victory!
Spread far the fame of our fair name
Go Northwestern win that game!
I think I'll do that. But only in bits and pieces. So maybe I'll see him waiting for lunch in the locker room and say, "Hey Luke, break right through that line!" And then on the driving range, I'll call out, "U Rah Rah!" And maybe later, I'll shake his hand and say, "I'm Jason Sobel. Spread far the fame of our fair name." I think he'd enjoy that.
(For the record, Donald is still 2-under, now through eight holes.)
Meanwhile, on-course spy Trigger -- an Iowa native and Northwestern alum -- has smoke coming out of his BlackBerry while watching Zach Johnson and Luke Donald at the same time. I'll spare you the gory details.
9:50 a.m.: This comes from Bob Harig, who resents me going public with his love of the Chipwich: "You want to tell 'em I'm eating a freakin' bagel, too?"
Should be a fun day, considering he's only sitting about two feet away from me. Sometimes I try to cheat off his work and copy what he's writing, like we all used to do in 10th grade English class, but then we just wind up writing the exact same column.
9:44 a.m.: Leaderboard check shows Luke Donald at 2-under, one shot behind sole leader Justin Hicks, who tees off exactly three hours from now. D.J. Trahan and Camilo Villegas are each making a move at 3-under for the day, but the best score right now is from the last player into the field. Andrew Svoboda, who wasn't even playing 24 hours ago and only got in based on Brett Wetterich's WD due to a wrist injury, is 3-under through his first four holes.
A little background: Two years ago, he missed the cut by one at his home course, Winged Foot. He turned pro shortly thereafter, but in two trips to Q-school hasn't progressed past the second stage.
9:38 a.m.: It's nice that I don't even have to explain these long absences anymore. From Adam in Portland, Ore.:
- Here's my suggestion for your laptop: Tee the thing up and hit it off one of the cliffs with your 3-iron. Maybe you'll get lucky and hit one of those clothing optionals on Black's Beach.
Knowing how I hit my 3-iron, I'd probably hook it so badly, it would wind up right back in the media center.
9:12 a.m.: E-mail from Ken in Baltimore:
- Seriously, your blog has strange powers. Not 20 minutes after you post
the Dinwiddie bio, he bogeys the next two holes!
What, you thought the Blog Jinx was a coincidence? This thing is real, man.
9:09 a.m.: Time to give Luke Donald his first Live Blog mention of the week. The Brit is now 1-under for the day after shooting even-par 71 in Round 1. The one major knock on Donald has always been that he doesn't hit the ball long enough to contend more often, but he's averaging 281.4 yards per drive this season, which is only seven yards shorter than a guy like Geoff Ogilvy, who's considered a "big hitter." I know we always have to look at driving stats with some skepticism (only two holes are usually measured each round), but so far this week Donald is averaging 301 yards off the tee -- nine more than the tourney average.
9:03 a.m.: E-mail from Stephen in Hempstead, N.Y.:
- We all (Davis) Love this blog and would be very upset if you DQ'd us
all, because the only thing left would be the kitchen (Stewart) Cink.
E-mail from Mac in Memphis:
- Let's Flesch this out before these puns become a Weekley occurrence.
E-mail from Kevin in Parts Unknown:
- We need somebody objective to Mediate here.
E-mail from Jim in Charlotte:
- We are all hurting as Baddeley as you are reading these puns.
Four more DQs. All of you -- out of the Live Blog.
And you all thought those Masters haikus and limericks were bad. Those were freakin' Hemingway compared with what's going on right now.
8:54 a.m.: I honestly don't know why, but many of you remain extremely interested in what I'm eating here at the course. I've received more than 850 e-mails since yesterday and it seems like most of you want to know about the media center fare as much as what's going on in the tournament. Fact is, I haven't eaten much. But the food here is good -- no green-wrapper sandwiches like the Masters or Arbroath Smokies like the British Open, but plenty of decent grub. Oh, and they have a big ice cream freezer. I was able to get a Chipwich a few days ago before Bob Harig ate them all.
At least I have company in my semi-hunger strike. From Eric in Parts Unknown:
- It is 10:53 and I have yet to eat anything the past two days, due to my dedicated reading of your blog. I haven't been this hungry since I starved myself for a week before auditioning to be on Survivor. I really just wanted to get one of those cool bandana things, then I found out I could order them online, and quit my audition. I wore it around for a day, then I got hit in the face with a broom for looking like a dork, and that was the end of it.
Um, OK. I think I'm going to get something to eat now. You know, just to distance myself from Eric a little bit.
8:50 a.m.: E-mail from Steve in Kingston, Ontario:
- Don't worry about the bad luck or bad puns. Weir all in this together. Woods you prefer it if nobody read your blog?
And Steve in Kingston has been DQ'd. See ya.
Seriously, people, I don't like reading these any more than you do, but if people like Steve are gonna subject me to these awful wordplays, then I'm taking you with me.
8:44 a.m.: Getting some confused e-mails about "R.Dinwiddie" on the leaderboard. He is not this guy, who plays QB for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
That's Ryan. This Dinwiddie is Robert and he's from Dumfries, Scotland. Other sort-of interesting notes: He's 25, attended Tennessee State, is a former Walker Cup player and owns three top-10s on the European Tour this year. And the USGA lists his home as "Barnard Castle, England," which is likely the name of his town, but I'd rather think of it as his own personal medieval lair.
Whatever the case, he's 2-under for the day through five holes and even-par for the tournament.
8:34 a.m.: On-course spy report from my former roommate Trigger, who is desparately trying to acquire one of those periscope contraptions prior to the Tiger/Phil tee time:
- Stewart Cink hits a great third shot on 13 to set up birdie try. Sergio Garcia marks his ball for him and fires it back down the cliff to Cink, then hits a blind third shot to two inches. Meanwhile, Vijay Singh's third fails to clear embankment and rolls all the way back.
Garcia makes birdie (he's 5-over). Cink makes par (he's even-par). Singh makes bogey (he's 1-over).
And for those rules violations enthusiasts, there's nothing wrong with marking another player's ball, if you have permission. Here's the long, drawn-out official rule, which should keep the e-mails on this one to a minimum:
- A ball to be lifted under the Rules may be lifted by the player, his partner or another person authorized by the player. In any such case, the player is responsible for any breach of the Rules. The position of the ball must be marked before it is lifted under a Rule that requires it to be replaced. If it is not marked, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke and the ball must be replaced. If it is not replaced, the player incurs the general penalty for breach of this Rule, but there is no additional penalty under Rule 20-1. If a ball or ball-marker is accidentally moved in the process of lifting the ball under a Rule or marking its position, the ball or ball-marker must be replaced. There is no penalty, provided the movement of the ball or ball-marker is directly attributable to the specific act of marking the position of or lifting the ball. Otherwise, the player incurs a penalty of one stroke under this Rule or Rule 18-2a.
Sorry for all that, but one of my biggest pet peeves is when folks at home try to catch players in the act of "cheating" -- or at least violating the Rules of Golf. So, like I said, just wanted to pre-empt that in this situation.
8:24 a.m.: E-mail from Pat in Parts Unknown:
- So, what you're saying is stop the puns
Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to inform you that Pat from Parts Unknown has been disqualified from the Live Blog. He will remain eligible to read and contribute to future major championships Live Blogs, but has been dismissed from this week's event.
8:22 a.m.: E-mail from Scott in Holland, Mich.:
- Do you expect any Hicks-ups? Or will we be Rocco-ing on? Perhaps the Axley's will fall off the wagon?
Seriously? I said make me laugh out loud, not cringe in pain.
A two-stroke penalty to you as well, Scott. If this keeps up, I'm going to start DQing some of you.
8:15 a.m.: E-mail from Yoni in Chicago:
- If Streelman wins, can we say he's "streeling the show"?
Not only can't we say it, but you need to penalize yourself two strokes just for thinking about it.
8:08 a.m.: Some crazy stuff going on just in the last few minutes. Patrick in Baghdad may have the answer:
- So I got to thinking about what your take might be on Friday the 13th. Do you think we will see any spooky or freaky things happening out on the golf course today?
Very spooky stuff. So, what should we expect from Round 2? This.
8:03 a.m.: First on-course spy report of the day from my former roommate Trigger, who once climbed Kilimanjaro but was more sore after walking the course for 12 hours yesterday:
- Stewart Cink hit his second shot on 12 into grandstand left of the green; appeared to have come to rest on the stairway. Hits a great chip off what was a free drop, but missed the par putt.
Another blog jinx? Ouch. It's starting early.
7:57 a.m.: Uh-oh. Can't believe I blog-jinxed Kevin Streelman by saying he'd avoid the power-fade. Instead, his fall from the leaderboard was more like a dead pull, as he just tripled the third hole to move to even-par for the tourney.
As for my aforementioned interview with Streelman -- conducted way back when he was in first place -- you can watch it here.
7:45 a.m.: E-mail from Kyle in Athens, Ga.:
- If I heard this right, Geoff Ogilvy carded his first sub-70 round in a
U.S. Open yesterday, correct? Do you think he is playing well enough to back
that up over four rounds or does he seem like he will blow up under the
pressure of having to maintain that level all weekend?
You are right with that fact. Bob Harig found the stat coming into this week about Ogilvy being the only Open champion since 1930-something to have never broken par in any career round. Well, he has now. And I think he'll remain in contention throughout the week. He played well at Colonial and Memorial (T-7 and ninth, respectively) and has proven himself on an Open venue already.
7:43 a.m.: Reverse blog jinx: Stewart Cink makes birdie on No. 11. He moves to 1-under.
7:39 a.m.: After an opening-round 72, Stewart Cink is on the board with a birdie on No. 10 -- his first hole of the day -- to move to even-par for the tourney. A lot of people really liked Cink's chances coming into this one, myself included. He's done everything but win this season, with a pair of second-place finishes, a pair of thirds and only one MC.
I picked Cink to win the PGA Championship at Southern Hills last year (see what I get for going against Tiger?), and at some point I really think he's going to get redemption for the 2001 U.S. Open there. If you don't know the story, Cink was just trying to get out of Retief Goosen's way on the final hole when he missed a gimme then watched as Goosen three-putted to fall into a playoff. Had Cink made that putt of less than two feet, he would have been playing on Monday, too.
7:28 a.m.: Co-leader Kevin Streelman is on the course and has carded a par on his opening hole. I spoke with Kevin for a few minutes both on Tuesday outside the players' locker room and yesterday after he completed his round of 3-under 68 and I can tell you that the guy's demeanor hasn't changed one bit. He's still smiling, still having fun. And while I wouldn't necessarily expect him to win this tournament on Sunday, I don't see him power-fading from leaderboard, either. Just doesn't seem like the type of guy who is going to get too rattled.
7:19 a.m.: First e-mail of the day from Mark in Akron, Ohio:
- What was the finally tally on those getting Romo'd yesterday? About half the office is either reading your blog or checking the scoreboard and we want to set a good over/under number for the day. Yes we're gambling on golf at work
not that there's anything wrong with that.
Gambling? And golf? Together? Now why hadn't anyone else thought of that before?
There were four players -- Mike (Unhappy) Gilmore, Michael Quagliano, Brian Bergstol and Philippe Gasnier -- who got the full Romo treatment yesterday (and three others who tied the mark of 84), so let's set the over/under of players shooting 84 or worse at 7.5 for Round 2.
As for our next prop bet of the day, this is a tricky one, but there's something to it. From
Dan in Effort, Pa.:
- I think the over under for mentioning Tiger's knee should be set at 65. I'm taking the over.
How about this: Which will be greater, Tiger's score in Round 2 or the number of knee references on the TV coverage? If someone wants to count up the latter, I'll be a sport and keep track of his strokes.
Happy Gambling Day in the office. (For entertainment purposes only, though, right?)
7:09 a.m.: Quick weather report for the day:
• 8 a.m.: 61 degrees; 2-5 mph winds
• 10 a.m.: 63 degrees; 5-10 mph winds
• 12 p.m.: 66 degrees; 5-15 mph winds
• 2 p.m.: 71 degrees; 10-18 mph winds
• 4 p.m.: 68 degrees; 8-15 mph winds
• 6 p.m.: 64 degrees; 5-10 mph winds
What's it mean? Tougher conditions -- albeit not brutal, by any means -- for the players teeing off later in the day, meaning those who already played well during yesterday's afternoon draw (Kevin Streelman, Geoff Ogilvy, Ernie Els and Robert Allenby among them) have an advantage in that they may be able to post another decent number this morning and watch it hold up throughout the day.
7:00 a.m.: Good morning from Torrey Pines, where Round 2 of the 108th U.S. Open Championship is just getting under way. Let's start with a passage that I neither wrote (that honor goes to the esteemed Dan Jenkins from his 1990 novel, "You Gotta Play Hurt") nor remembered (it was passed along by reader Rob in Dallas this morning), but one which provides a little fun insight into this event:
- "The press and the contestants are always grumpy at the US Open. It's a grumpy event. The golfers are always grumpy because they detest the course. They detest it the moment they arrive and can't see anything but weeds and exotic plant life bordering the pinched-in fairways and surrounding the marble-slick greens. The players always accuse the United States Golf Association of setting up the golf course to make them shoot high scores and look foolish to the fans. The USGA responds by saying it is only trying to protect the 'integrity' of par and 'identify' the best golfer of the week, and, meanwhile , 'Play away, gentlemen.'
"The press is grumpy because of the way it is always treated by the USGA. The press is invariably headquartered at a scroungy hotel, which is never near the course, the parking passes will only get the writers as far as the area to catch shuttle buses, and most of the air-conditioned rooms of the clubhouse are always off-limited to the writers. Every year the press howls about its treatment and every year the USGA's officers say the inconveniences are a small price to pay for the Open to be held at one of the country's finest golf courses."
And you thought June Gloom had something to do with the weather.
You know the drill. I'll be here live blogging for the next 12 hours, give or take, so hit me at the e-mail address above for inclusion in today's blog. Doesn't have to be anything funny, but you know the standing rule: Make me laugh out loud and you're in. Let's get going
Jason Sobel covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.