Winged Foot was the home of the 1974 US Open, which Hale Irwin won with a seven over par, in what has come to be known as “The Massacre at Winged Foot.”
And it is the home of the 2006 US Open, which has finished Day One of play. The Leaderboard? One player (Colin Montgomerie) is under par at the end of the first round, and that’s at one under. Only one player out of a field of 156. The big names: Phil Mickelson is even par. Vijay Singh (my pretourney pick) is one over par. Ernie Els is four over. Tiger Woods is seven over par after day one.
My hometown hero and sentimental favorite, Fred Funk, is fighting strong at one over.
I’ve been excited about the Open for the past month. USGA wanted to punish the hell out of the players, really test them to see who is the best. And with 6 inch rough, undulating greens with the friction of a pane of glass, and a 514 Par 4 ninth hole (which Els actually eagled on his approach shot today), among other challenges, this is an impossibly tough course. To quote golfer Mark Brooks, “There’s probably six hard holes, six really hard holes and six impossible holes.”
This is a textbook example of how to demonstrate to the non-golfer how golf is a sport as physically and mentally strenuous as any other. 156 golfers (145 pros who do this for a living and 9 qualifying amateurs), and only one can meet the mark of a negative score on the round. It illustrates the game’s challenge, and tosses in a healthy spot of schadenfreude while we’re at it.
I love this game. Thank you USGA.