Star group of Mick­el­son, McIl­roy, Spi­eth crash at Shin­necock

Journal Pioneer - - SPORTS - BY DOUG FER­GU­SON

Three holes into his 27th U.S. Open, Phil Mick­el­son called over a rules of­fi­cial for a ques­tion rarely heard. “Is there a rule that al­lows me to see the ball when I hit it?” he asked. There was no re­lief for Mick­el­son. Not on the 12th hole at Shin­necock Hills. Not at many oth­ers. And he wasn’t alone. Mick­el­son was in the mar­quee group Thurs­day morn­ing, which fea­tured three play­ers who have a dozen ma­jors among them. And be­cause USGA of­fi­cials try to have a sense of hu­mour, they put together the only three ac­tive play­ers who have three legs of the ca­reer Grand Slam. Mick­el­son shot a 77. He had the low­est score in the group. Jor­dan Spi­eth shot a 78, his high­est score in a ma­jor. Rory McIl­roy, who came bounc­ing into this ma­jor full of con­fi­dence and af­fec­tion for Shin­necock Hills, was 10-over par through 11 holes. He played even par the rest of the way and shot an 80 for his high­est score in the U.S. Open. How did this hap­pen? Hard to say. Mick­el­son and McIl­roy re­fused re­quests to speak to the me­dia. “There were cer­tainly some dicey pins,” Spi­eth said. “But at the same time, there was guys that shot un­der par. So I could have played bet­ter.” This was a painful to watch from the start at No. 10, where Spi­eth made bo­gey with a three­p­utt from long range and Mick­el­son went over the green. That’s to be ex­pected at the U.S. Open. It quickly un­rav­eled for Spi­eth. From a bunker right on the par-3 11th, his shot came out strong to­ward the hole and went just far enough to catch a slope and roll out some 15 yards. His first pitch came back to his feet. His sec­ond pitch nearly did. He used a put­ter and hit that 6 feet by the hole. Twenty-five min­utes af­ter he teed off, it looked as though his U.S. Open could be over. He made the putt for triple bo­gey, leav­ing him at 4 over through two holes.

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