BETHESDA, Md. – A man who has never played the weekend at a U.S. Open is setting the pace midway through the morning half of the draw.
Ryan Palmer, who missed the cut at the U.S. Open in 1998 and 2007, has yet to make a bogey in the first round. The Texan started on the front, as have the majority of the players at the top of the leaderboard, and has completed 11 holes in 3 under.
Giving chase are several major champions, including Graeme McDowell, who is defending the title he won a year ago at Pebble Beach. He’s tied at 1 under along with 2009 British Open champ Stewart Cink, 2009 PGA champ Y.E. Yang and Davis Love III, who won the 1997 PGA.
Also at 1 under are Chez Reavie, who is playing his 18th hole; J.J. Henry and Jason Day. The group at even par includes three-time major champion Padraig Harrington and Louis Oosthuizen, who will defend his British Open title next month at Royal St. George’s.
Phil Mickelson, who has finished second at the U.S. Open five times, is among the afternoon starters. The birthday boy – Mickelson turns 41 today -- tees off No. 10 in the day’s Featured Group with Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson.
Nike has provided a preview of what some of their players will be wearing this week for the U.S. Open. Here’s a look at the clothes Anthony Kim, Paul Casey, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink are expected to wear for each of the four rounds (should each make the cut, of course) at Congressional.
David Toms came within one of tying the course record at Colonial Country Club, where he shot a 61 in Thursday’s morning wave. Brendon de Jonge and Stewart Cink each shot 64 as the birdies keep piling up.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Pat Perez has it all figured out.
“It’s going to take a number,” he said as he contemplated Sunday's final round of the Wells Fargo Championship. "It'll take a number for everybody tomorrow. ...
"Guys do it all the time. Guys come out and shoot 65, 66 on Sunday and they move way up the board.”
Perez will be looking for that number as he plays in the final group with Jonathan Byrd, who leads by one at 15 under. There are nine players within six strokes of the South Carolinian's lead and another five at 8 under.
And you have to look no further than a year ago when Rory McIlroy shot 62 to erase a four-stroke deficit to know that strange things can happen on Sunday at Quail Hollow. Just ask Vijay Singh, who made up a six-stroke deficit when he won in 2005.
"You never know, you get a guy in the morning that tees off and he's 7 under and he shoots 8 under tomorrow,” Perez said. "... You've got to keep your foot on the gas, and it's not going to be play for pars and stuff like that tomorrow. But I'm more than comfortable being one back."
Byrd is playing extremely well, though. He's one of three players -- Lucas Glover and Kevin Na are the others -- who has a chance to become the first player in the history of the tournament to post all four rounds in the 60s.
Byrd, who closed with a 31 and shot 67 Saturday, is also looking to become the third player on TOUR to win twice in 2011. In fact, he is trying to win for the third time in his last 12 starts dating back to last year's Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open -- a tournament he won in a playoff with a walk-off ace.
Byrd, who ranks 18th in the FedExCup, is a different player as he contemplates Sunday's final round, though. In Las Vegas last year, the former Clemson standout ranked 117th on the money list and he was just trying to keep his card.
The difference now? Byrd says it's confidence -- maybe some maturity, too. Not to mention, a steady putter from inside 10 feet.
"It's just kind of like I was searching to get my game going then before that win in Vegas, and now I'm just trying to just go play, knowing that everything is pretty good," Byrd explained. "I'm not resting on what I've done already, but it has made things easier just to go play golf and not work on things as much."
Glover, who is tied for third with Stewart Cink, three strokes behind his college teammate, knows Byrd is playing well.
"Somebody is going to have to get off to a good start," he said. "Jonathan is a great front runner. He's playing so well. I played with him Tuesday and saw him at home the last couple weeks. He's playing great.
"It's going to take a good start and a low round because he's playing well enough to where he could shoot in the 60s again tomorrow and blow everybody away. But we'll see. You know, I've got to get off to a good start and just take care of my stuff."
The best round of the day? It might end up being Stewart Cink’s. The 2009 British Open winner is 7 under through 15 holes with seven birdies and no bogeys.
As a result, Cink is suddenly tied for fifth at 8 under and just three off the lead of Lucas Glover.
Cink’s bal-striking has been strong here in the third round with 12 of 15 greens in regulation. He’s also taken just 21 putts, which includes a couple of makes from beyond 15 feet.
Like the player he’s chasing, Cink hasn’t had a great few starts with a tie for 30th at The Heritage his best finish after a T59 in in Texas and a missed cut at the Masters.
In case you’re wondering, the course record should be safe. It’s a 62, which Rory McIlroy shot in last year’s final round.
By Stan Awtrey, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- They only live about 15 miles away from each other in the northern Atlanta suburbs, but Stewart Cink and Jason Bohn rarely play golf together. Usually it only occurs when they’re paired at a PGA TOUR event, as they were Sunday at The Heritage.
“We play every week, don’t we?” Cink joked. “At least we talk about playing every week. But I think we’ve done only done it once.”
Logistics and family commitments make it tough. They’re not always off the same week and each man has a wife and two children, as well as off-the-course business demands.
“It’s not always easy to set aside basically a whole day,” Cink said. “But we’ll get together, maybe play East Lake one day.”
The two colleagues had casual conversations around the course and seemed to enjoy each other’s company. Their results were good, too, as each man shot 67. Cink finished the tournament at 4-under 280, while Bohn birdied four of the last six holes, including the difficult 18 th, and finished at 281.
Cink changed his equipment this week, switching to a lighter shaft. The only clubs that didn’t change was the 3-wood and sand wedge. He was pleased with the changes, even though he wasn’t overwhelmed by his overall results.
Bohn was hoping the momentum he gained on Sunday will carry over to next week, when he defends his championship at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
The best videos from the first round of The Heritage. We’ll update this entry all day with new videos:
|Zach Johnson birdied from the back of the green on the first||Click to watch|
|Stewart Cink rolled in a 23-footer for birdie on the 10th||Click to watch|
|Bill Haas birdied the iconic 18th to go out in 30 on Thursday||Click to watch|
|Brendan Steele was off and running in his bid to go back-to-back||Click to watch|
|Camilo Villegas chips in from 43 feet for eagle at No. 5||Click to watch|
|Fredrik Jacobson sinks 31-foot birdie putt at No. 16||Click to watch|
|Matt Kuchar rolls in 17-foot putt at No. 12||Click to watch|
AFTER THEIR ROUNDS
|Tim Herron talks about his 6-under 65||Click to watch|
|Matt Bettencourt talks about his 6-under 65||Click to watch|
|Arjun Atwal talks about his 6-under 65||Click to watch|
|Garrett Willis talks about his 7-under 64||Click to watch|
J.J. Henry didn’t even have to hit a shot to reclaim the lead early Friday. He can thank Stewart Cink for that.
Cink, who had a share of the overnight lead with a 67 Thursday, has plummeted down the leaderboard after playing his first 12 holes here in Round 2 in 5 over.
Things started well enough for Cink, who hasn’t won since the 2009 British Open, with four pars and a birdie over his first five holes at TPC San Antonio. Since then, it’s been a mess with three bogeys and a triple bogey over his last eight holes.
The triple bogey for Cink came on No. 9 -- the same hole where Kevin Na infamously made a 16 on Thursday -- where Cink hit it left off the tee, had to punch out and then came up short of the green on his approach. He then pitched onto the fringe but left himself some 50 feet and took three more strokes to get home, missing his attempt at double from just inside 10 feet.
Adam Scott, who started the day just one back, has also fallen back. The Aussie has three bogeys and two birdies through his first 13 holes and he’s already taken 23 putts.
The big story of the opening round wasn’t so much who was leading but that of Kevin Na, who made a 16 on the par-4 ninth hole (in case you somehow missed it, click here ). The other story was of course J.J. Henry and Stewart Cink sharing the lead. Cink has since disappeared thanks to a 4-over start through his first 11 holes, but Masters contender Adam Scott is still high on the leaderboard. Who will take the lead going into the weekend? Discuss here.
J.J. Henry has company atop the leaderboard at TPC San Antonio.
Stewart Cink, whose last victory on the PGA TOUR came at the 2009 British Open, shot a bogey-free 5-under 67 to match Henry, who was also without a blemish on his scorecard.
On the day, Cink, whose best finish this year was a tie for 11th in Tampa, hit a dozen greens in regulation and needed just 25 putts. It helps that he also averaged just 26 feet on his approach shots. Cink had seven one-putts and twice made shots from off the green.
The 67 by Cink also matches his best score of the year -- he shot that in the third round in Tampa and in the second round in L.A.