Road trips, rainouts and lack of sleep at US Open
OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) — Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott went to Oakmont a week before the U.S. Open. Jason Day and Jordan Spieth arrived on the weekend.
Russell Knox? He went to Maine.
“I’ve never been there,” said Knox, who grew up in Scotland and has lived his adult life in Florida.
There’s more to it than that.
His wife, Andrea, was going to Maine to visit family. Knox was planning to go home to Ponte Vedra Beach until he realized the greens on his home course were being aerated, so he wouldn’t get much done. So he booked a flight to Maine.
The only golf course nearby was Boothbay Harbor, which measures about 6,300 yards from the tips. Knox, who won the World Golf Championship in Shanghai last year, called the shop and asked if he could play.
It was a short round. He only played five holes with his 11-year-old nephew, though not by design.
His wife called and asked when to pick them up, and Knox told his nephew, “5.” His nephew thought he meant five holes, and they already were on No. 3.
“So she came over right away,” Knox said. “That was OK. It’s a pretty cool little course.”
BAD DRAW: The scores show that those who teed off Thursday morning endured three rain delays and didn’t finish the first round until Friday morning had it tougher. The average score in their side of the draw was rough two shots higher.
But it’s not just about a score.
The Thursday morning starters were up at dawn to get to Oakmont, eat breakfast, stretch and warm up. Then, they had to get up at dawn on Friday to go through the same drill to finish the round. Sleep in Saturday? Not a chance. They’ll be back at Oakmont in the morning to start their second round.
“I did realize this,” Russell Knox said. “I thought, ‘Man, I’m not going to get to sleep in.’ And I’m a good sleeper. I think about that a lot.”
LATE TEE TIME: Bubba Watson has played a lot of golf as a pro, though he never saw anything like the second round tee time he was assigned after finishing up his first round Friday morning.
Watson said he was told to report to the first tee at 8:21. In the evening.
“I have to decide if I’m going to eat dinner before I play or after because they haven’t announced it yet, but they’re definitely going to tee off early the next day,” Watson said. “So my sleep’s going to be — I need 12 hours of sleep. I get cranky. I’m not going to get my 12 hours of sleep tonight.”
Fortunately for Watson wiser heads prevailed and the players who finished their first rounds in the morning were slotted to play 36 holes if necessary on Saturday to make up for rain delays at Oakmont.
His new tee time? 8:06.
On Saturday morning.
HURRY UP AND WAIT: Amateur Scottie Scheffler quickly hit his last putt Thursday as the horn sounded to end play, eager to get the evening off so he could watch Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Little did he realize he would have even more time on his hands before beginning his second round.
The University of Texas junior to be got the day off Friday, after shooting a 1 under 69 to get on the Open leaderboard. While some players had as many as 36 holes to play on Friday, he didn’t even need to step foot on the golf course.
Scheffler is hardly alone. A total of 78 players — half the field — will not begin their second rounds until Saturday morning. Those who make the cut will turn around and go back out in the afternoon for their third round.
USGA officials say they are still on track for a Sunday finish — barring a playoff, of course — with the forecast showing sunny and hot with no rain.
COURSE KNOWLEDGE: Jason Kokrak grew up just over an hour from Oakmont Country Club, and his golf coach was a member.
That got him a tee time on the course. It didn’t prepare him for what was ahead.
“I remember it being extremely difficult,” Kokrak said. “I think I putted it off the 1st green.”
Kokrak would go on to play the U.S. Amateur and the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont and acquire the kind of course knowledge that has come in handy this week.
“I just kind of know what to expect,” he said. “Playing the Amateur and playing the Open here, I know how fast the greens can get. I know some of the tricky pin placements. I know where not to hit it.”
That knowledge helped him complete 36 holes at 1-over 141, just five shots off the lead held by Dustin Johnson. He did it with the support of friends and family, who traveled from nearby Warren, Ohio, to see him play.
“Today was a long day, but they were there for most of it,” Kokrak said.