Highs and lows:
After coleaders shoot 65 in morning, Woods and Fowler can’t break 80. Greens draw criticism.
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — Call them “browns,” because they are hardly green.
The putting surfaces on the Chambers Bay golf course look like a quilted patchwork of grass, so splotchy that they seem in need of a good paint job. That’s the nature of fescue grass, which can look a lot worse than it actually plays.
Whether it’s up to major championship standards is another question.
Rory McIlroy hit the ball about as well as anybody from tee to green Thursday in the first round of the U.S. Open, but the world’s topranked player missed many putts by an inch or two and needed an uncharacteristic amount (34) in shooting a disappointing two-over-par 72 that put him seven shots off the lead.
With some diplomacy, McIlroy said of the greens, “They are not the best I’ve ever putted on.”
Placing the onus on himself, he added, “I still feel like if you make a good enough stroke and you have the right speed there’s a good enough chance the ball will go in.”
After shooting 70, Sergio Garcia said on Twitter that the greens are “as bad as they look on TV.” Later, Garcia tweeted that the U.S. Open “deserves better quality green surfaces than we have this week but maybe I’m wrong!”
Phil Mickelson, who scouted Chambers Bay extensively in the buildup and shot 69 in the first round, noted that the greens played at varying speeds throughout the course, a condition with which the players are not accustomed to on either the PGA Tour or a major. Mickelson said there was a three-foot difference in roll on the Stimpmeter between some greens.
“That’s a big challenge for us,” said Mickelson, who had an early lead at three under, “and it’s the only thing I could possibly say is not just wonderful. … That’s the best way to wreak havoc with us, change the speeds of the greens from green to green.” Etc.
Cole Hammer, a 15-yearold high school sophomore from Houston, stumbled to a 40 on the back nine and shot a no-birdie 77. ... Bubba Watson complained about slow play, saying after a shot on the last hole: “You wait 30 minutes. This is pathetic professional golf.” ... Former USC star Jamie Lovemark, 27, playing in his first major in a career filled with injuries, eagled the 12th hole on his way to shooting 70. Lovemark is playing on the Web.com Tour after losing his PGA Tour card last season.