John Smoltz just learned how hard US Open golf really is

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Though John Smoltz may have felt very much alone on the wind-whipped, sun-baked Broadmoor course, he wasn’t.

The pitching Hall of Famer spent Day 1 at the US Senior Open in much the same position as the rest of the field — gouging out of ankle-high rough, then scrambling to put himself in position for par putts on tricky, mountain greens that left player after player shaking his head.

“I’m just being honest,” Smoltz said after a round of 15-over 85 that left him tied for 150th place. “I don’t have enough game for this course yet.”

He wasn’t alone.

The ultimate test for the seniors produced only eight below-par scores Thursday, and not a single player — not even leader Jerry Kelly — finished 18 holes without a bogey on his card.

Kelly gave it a run, though.

After saving par from the rough on the 559-yard, par-4 17th — he was holding his right elbow after digging out the approach — Kelly was one 4-foot putt away from going bogey-free. But when that slid a fraction to the right at the cup, his flawless day was history.

Kelly still shot 4-under 66, which was good enough for a two-shot lead over Miguel Angel Jimenez, Kevin Sutherland, Deane Pappas and Rocco Mediate.

“I was pretty disappointed with that three-putt on the last hole,” Kelly said. “But it gave me a lot today. I played very well, but it gave me some shots, too.”

 

Mediate found himself in the mix again for a national championship 10 years after his epic, 19-hole playoff loss to Tiger Woods at the US Open at Torrey Pines. Whether it’s the regular Open or the seniors, Mediate insists the tough USGA setups suit him, even though he missed the cut the last two years in this event.

“It looks like a US Open golf course,” Mediate said about the Broadmoor. “It is a US Open golf course. It will show you quickly that it is, if you hit it in the wrong place. That’s what I love most about the setup.”

Also lurking was defending champion Kenny Perry, whose 71 included only a single birdie.

“Here, the greens, they’ve got you on edge,” said Perry, whose title last year gave him entry into the US Open earlier this month. “I feel like I’m at Shinnecock again.”

Smoltz, whose day job is broadcasting baseball games for Fox, walked onto the Broadmoor for the first time this week. He hired a local caddie, Colin Prater, who was a Division II All-American at Colorado-Colorado Springs.

Almost immediately, though, the pitcher-turned-golfer received a crash course in the difference between casual rounds of golf and the sport at its most difficult.

“I never expected to get that many bad lies,” he said. “Nothing I could do about it. And I had a lot of tough shots that I have not practiced and that I am not used to hitting.”

A few times during the round, Smoltz had to stop, take off his shoes and tape up his toes, which were raw and aching. Lesson: Don’t break in new golf shoes at the US Open.

“It was fun to have him out here,” said Bob Ford, who was in the threesome with Smoltz. “But I didn’t expect him to break 80. I know how good he is. But this is just another world. It’s not his world.”

Smoltz’s first turn through this world will end after Friday’s round.

Kelly — he set himself up to be in a good spot heading into the weekend.

“I hit three bad shots, and I shot 85,” Smoltz said. “It just tells you, from an amateur standpoint, and for people sitting at home, how great these players are.”

 

Sources: nypost.com

Happy Fathers Day

Tiger Woods shoots 72, birdies final two holes to keep chances of making U.S. Open cut alive

A promising start to Tiger Woods’s second round of the U.S. Open didn’t last, but his finish might have been enough to keep him around for the weekend.

Woods birdied his first hole of the day and suffered some bogeys and a double in between before finishing birdie-birdie to keep his chances of making the cut alive.

He signed for a two-over 72 and sits at 10 over for the tournament. The cut is likely to be at nine or 10 over, meaning Woods will have to wait and see how the afternoon wave fares to see if he’ll advance to the weekend.

Dustin Johnson, who played in Woods’s group, shot 67 and is the clubhouse leader at four under.

After his birdie at the first hole — a good wedge led to a kick-in putt on the par-4 10th — Woods made two bogeys and one birdie to close his opening nine and turn in even-par 36.

But a missed green in regulation on the par-4 1st, the same hole Woods triple-bogeyed Thursday, led to a double bogey. He added two more bogeys on the 2nd and 6th before making birdie putts on 8 and 9.

Players battled rain in the morning but the weather has cleared for the afternoon groupings, which might make for a softer, more scorable course.

Source: golf.com

Five golfers among Forbes’ highest-paid athletes

Tiger Woods led a group of five golfers included among Forbes Magazine’s annual list of the top 100 highest-paid athletes in the world.

The ranking combines both “salary/winnings” and endorsement money, with boxer Floyd Mayweather taking the top spot with a combined $285 million. Woods came in at No. 16, sandwiched between boxer Canelo Alvarez and NFL quarterback Drew Brees, with $43.3 million, of which $42 million came from endorsements.

Three other golfers landed in the mid-20s, with Phil Mickelson ($41.3 million) listed at No. 22, Jordan Spieth right behind him at No. 23 ($41.2 million), and Rory McIlroy at No. 27 ($37.7 million). Spieth had the most on-course earnings of the trio with $11.2 million, but his $30 million in endorsements trailed both Mickelson ($37 million) and McIlroy ($34 million)

Justin Thomas was the only other golfer to crack the top 100, listed at No. 66 with a haul of $26 million.

At age 47, Mickelson was the oldest athlete to make the list, followed by 42-year-old Woods and 41-year-old Mayweather.

Outside of Mayweather, the top American-based athlete to make the list was LeBron James at No. 6 with $85.5 million. Stephen Curry ($76.9 million) and quarterbacks Matt Ryan ($67.3 million) and Matthew Stafford ($59.5 million) occupied the final three spots in the top 10.

 

Source: golfchannel.com

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