2011 US Open (Golf)

2011 US Open Golf: Thursday's 15 Biggest Surprises

Immer ChriswellCorrespondent IJune 17, 2011

2011 US Open Golf: Thursday's 15 Biggest Surprises

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland watches his tee shot on the eighth hole during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The first day of the US Open is completed, and it was a great day of golf. A lot of players played real well today. And then there's the other guys, who didn't play so well today.

    There were plenty of shocks out there, whether it was exceptional play, exceptional hair or exceptionally bad play.

    If you are a true golf fan, today really had a little of everything.

Tiger Woods Was Not in Attendance

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    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 12:  Tiger Woods looks on from the fifth hole during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 12, 2011 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Kidding.

Phil Mickelson

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Phil Mickelson reacts to missing a chip shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    We all are aware of Phil's US Open struggles. But who would have guessed that the 10th hole would be the one right off the bat to take him? 

    Phil had talked about playing it deep, and then he goes and dumps the ball short in the water.

    From there, it was somewhat classic Phil golf. Shoot a few over par from places anyone else shoots 130.

    It was shocking to watch Phil play so poorly, because you would think he wouldn't do what he did today. Nothing was good with his swing. There is even a report Phil called Butch Harmon for an emergency session to check his alignment. 

    Apparently he's going to need another one if he wants to stay on the right hole.

Sergio Garcia

4 of 16

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Sergio Garcia of Spain walks to a green during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    I do remember mentioning him in my bold predictions as winning. At this point, it is still plausible.

    Sergio played a great round of golf, and then capped it off with a classic missed putt. Expect anything else?

    Even as Sergio's biggest supporter, I didn't see him playing this well today.

Robert Rock

5 of 16

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Robert Rock of England plays a bunker shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    Most people have no clue who this man is. Here's a hint: he's the only guy on the course without a hat (I think). And it's for a reason. There isn't a hair out of place on the man's head.

    After some visa issues, Rock got off the plane last night at 11:30 pm local time, just enough time to have no practice rounds, and limited sleep (he got to DC at 3 am). Not to mention jet lag. And he then shot one-under par.

Only 4 Rounds in the 80s

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Kevin Na watches a shot during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
    Andrew Redington/Getty Images

    At the US Open, you can normally expect around eight or nine 80s a round for the first two days. Today, we saw four. Why? Course conditions. Even though the USGA tried its hardest to make this course a challenge, the rain thwarted that attempt, softening the greens.

    It's not fun to see rounds in the 80s, but it's a shock to see so few in the US Open.

Luke Donald

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Luke Donald of England hits a shot on the fifth hole during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    We all knew distance off the tee would be an issue for Donald. Even though his short game is exceptional. 

    But we didn't see the stretch of six-over par in six holes, which featured a stunning double bogey from a simple pitch onto the green on the 18th hole.

    Donald's game, along with the rest of his group, was not up to par.

1+2+3 = 10?

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    DORAL, FL - MARCH 10:  (L-R) Martin Kaymer of Germany, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood of England walk off the the first tee during the first round of the 2011 WGC- Cadillac Championship at the TPC Blue Monster at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa on March 10, 2
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Like I said on the last side, nobody's play was up to par in this group. Two three-over-par performances and a four-over-par round. 

    It was not a good day to be the top players in the world, especially if your name was Luke Donald, Lee Westwood or Martin Kaymer.

    Hopefully that group can get it together for the next three rounds.

Louis Oosthuizen and the Successful Colorful Scorecard

9 of 16

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa waves to the gallery during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Louis Oosthuizen didn't come into this week with loads of momentum. And he left with, I guess you could say some momentum.

    It was a rollercoaster day for Oosthuizen, who had a total six birdies and four bogeys, never reaching past two-under par.

Molinari Struggles Squared

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    PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL - MAY 10:  (L-R) Francesco Molinari of Italy, Matteo Manassero of Italy and Edoardo Molinari of Italy smile together during a practice round prior to the start of THE PLAYERS Championship held at THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Saw
    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Neither of the Molinaris had fun today. Edoardo never had a great run and played generally average golf. Francesco had to rely on a 35 on one nine to offset a 40.

    The two brothers combined for seven over on the day, which is shocking given their talent.

Angel Cabrera Shoots Even Par

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Angel Cabrera of Argentina hits a shot on the fifth hole during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    The guy literally has not been relevant on the PGA Tour in forever, and somehow he still manages to be relevant in majors. 

    Good thing he picks the majors to play well in, otherwise he wouldn't have his tour card.

Schwartzel Strings 'Em Together Again

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    EAST LONDON, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 10:  Charl Schwartzel of South Africa plays his approach shot on the 16th hole during the final round of the Africa Open at the East London Golf Club on January 10, 2010 in East London, South Africa.  (Photo by Stuart F
    Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

    We all remember when Charl Schwartzel won the Masters this year, he birdied the last four holes at Augusta. Well, it wasn't the final round, or four holes in a row, but four out of five holes for birdies is what it took to propel Schwartzel into fine position for tomorrow.

    If there's someone who is a danger to the leader right now, it's Schwartzel.

Y.E. Yang Shows Up to Play

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Y.E. Yang of South Korea hits a shot during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Since being proclaimed the "Tiger Slayer" (so inaccurate it's funny), Yang has not really played as many think he is capable of. Most people said that Yang's mentality is what would make him a player whose success would continue. 

    Truth is, though, Yang has not impressed. But he has a chance again, and if a poor final round is played again, he may be there to catch a win again.

Peter Uihlein's Solid Play

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    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Amateur Peter Uihlein celebrates after holing his approach shot on the fifth hole for eagle during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by David Canno
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    It's not that Uihlein is a bad player, or that the course doesn't suit him. It's the history of the US Amateur champion in this event. Two DNPs, two MCs and a finish in the 60s are the last five.

    Maybe we are seeing a future successful professional golfer if he can keep it together. I hope I didn't just jinx that.

Manassero Struggles Somewhat

15 of 16

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Matteo Manassero of Italy watches his tee shot on the second hole during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Coming into today, I figured Matteo Manassero would be the guy who could post a few under and be what everybody is talking about.

    Instead, Manassero is sitting in no man's land at three-over par. Not out of it, but not in the hunt right now.

    Hopefully he can pull it together, because he and the next guy on this list are the future of golf.

Rory McIlroy

16 of 16

    BETHESDA, MD - JUNE 16:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks to the ninth green during the first round of the 111th U.S. Open at Congressional Country Club on June 16, 2011 in Bethesda, Maryland.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    Ok, so it isn't a shock given it's the first round, and it's Rory McIlroy. Given all the Masters talk, you would think it's a week after his choke. However, 17 of 18 greens is shocking. Garcia had 16 of 18, and still managed to shoot only two under.

    McIlroy's round was that good.

    Honestly, I don't think it's the fact McIlroy shot so well after the choke. It's that he shot so well, and could have easily set the record for best round in a major ever without thinking.

    Rory McIlroy's bogey-free 65 proved that he is ready to give it another whack. Will he fall victim again to Charl Schwartzel, someone else, or can he rise to the challenge? Here's hoping it just isn't him choking away.

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