Thursday, May 19

Russell Henley Shares US Open Lead After Foggy First Day at Torrey Pines | US Opening 2021

The last time he visited Torrey Pines Golf Club for the Farmers Insurance Open more than seven years ago, Russell Henley hit a full swing flop at 18 to finish at 79 and miss the cut by six strokes. No wonder he was in no rush to go back.

“I really don’t remember [it] as well as leaving the field feeling like I’ve been beaten, ”Henley said. “I played it once and I really struggled and it was like, well, I just won’t play it from now on. Maybe that’s not the best reason. “

The Georgia native’s return to the city-owned coastal track for the first round of Thursday’s US Open played out somewhat more favorably. After opening with a bogey, the 32-year-old Henley spun two-under and added three birdies in the last nine for a 67-of-four and a one-shot lead over Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

The early goal almost held true during the afternoon wave until Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, joined him at the top of the leaderboard until his round was suspended for obscurity with two holes to play.

Among the five players within two shots of the joint leaders were two-time US Open champion Brooks Koepka, San Diego native and crowd favorite Xander Schauffele, reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and third-placed Jon Rahm, who It lived up to the expectations of the punters. as a pre-tournament favorite in his first round since he was forced to withdraw from the Memorial last month due to a positive coronavirus test while leading by six shots after 54 holes.

The first round will not be completed until Friday thanks to the thick layer of fog that arrived from the Pacific Ocean at dawn, delaying the start of Thursday by an hour and a half. The dense marine layer enveloped the field and left it unplayable, causing a delay of 15 minutes after another as the approximately 150 spectators that dotted the grandstand surrounding the first tee-off entered and exited the gallery.

The fog showed no signs of burning or moving out to sea for over an hour amid temperatures of 17 ° C (63 ° F) and 90% humidity until it finally cleared enough for local player Sahith Theegala, grouped together with Italy’s Edoardo Molinari and USA’s Greyson Sigg to finally launch a tee shot on the gray San Diego morning at 8.15am.

The first fog delay at a US Open since 2004 in Shinnecock Hills brought the scheduled tee time from 2.42 p.m. to 4.12 p.m., causing a break in action around 8 p.m. with 36 players remaining on the field. A marine cape also delayed the game in 2000 at Pebble Beach, where Tiger Woods won by a record 15 strokes over Ernie Els and Miguel Ángel Jiménez in the most dominant performance in major championship history.

The morning twilight quickly gave way to a sun-soaked afternoon at the par 71 South Course, which is home to the United States national championship for the first time since Woods’ famous win in 2008, with Bryson DeChambeau trying to defend his title and local hero. Phil Mickelson is trying to become the sixth player to complete the major grand slam of his career that has caused him so much agony over the years.

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Mickelson’s offer got off to a rocky start as the six-time US Open runner-up, who turned 51 on Wednesday and required a special waiver to enter before last month’s historic US PGA Championship win, was repeatedly out of position. . off the tee and made three bogeys on his first six holes and two later to finish with a four out of 75.

At one point, Mickelson was forced to back up his second shot multiple times on the 613-yard 13th hole when a spectator’s phone rang repeatedly. He proceeded to send a shot into the bushes, before asking the fan, “I don’t understand why you can’t turn that little button on the side silently.”

“I was fighting hard the entire round,” said Mickelson, who became the oldest player to win a tournament last month at Kiawah. “I wasn’t really doing anything and I fought really hard, and then I let two bogeys slide over six and seven when I really shouldn’t have.”

DeChambeau, who captured his first major at last year’s US Open at Winged Foot, spent much of the first day of his title defense in heavy and harsh punishment, needing two birdies in the final five holes to escape with two over. 73.

The USGA announces its exhibition event as the toughest test in golf and the narrow fairways, dense, rough and glassy greens that made up the setup at the 7,652-yard South Course, the eighth longest track in championship history. important, they followed what has become a family recipe. Mickelson wasn’t the only big name to give up under his rigor Thursday.

Former US Open champions Webb Simpson (79), Justin Rose (79), Martin Kaymer (77) and Jordan Spieth (77) were among the household names towards the bottom of the standings, with the PGA Championship winner of the year. past Collin Morikawa (75) is not doing much better. Max Homa, grouped with Mickelson and Schauffele in a trio of Southern California players that drew huge crowds all morning, made four 20-foot triple-bogey putts on the 12th and three double-bogey putts on the 14th to finish with a five. – more than 76.

Instead, the day belonged to Henley, who has won three touring events since turning pro a decade ago but has never finished in the top 10 in any of his 26 major tournament appearances.

“I feel like the last year I’ve been playing golf I feel like one of the 50 best players in the world. I’ve had a lot of top 10. I’ve been in contention, ”he said. “I feel like I’m still playing well. That doesn’t mean I’m definitely going to do that in the next three days, but I definitely felt comfortable there. “

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