Masters champion Adam Scott has completed 36 holes at Merion in 7 over.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Adam Scott, the only man with a chance to win the Grand Slam this year, may not be around for the weekend at Merion.
The Aussie shot a disappointing 75 in Friday's second round of the U.S. Open and stands 7 over at the midway point. Obviously, the cut won't be determined until sometime on Saturday thanks to weather delays of more than four hours -- but right now the low 60s and ties stands at 5 under.
Scott actually had to play 25 holes on Friday after weather delays of more than four hours the previous day played havoc with the schedule. He had just birdied the 11th hole when darkness suspended play, and he was sitting pretty, just one stroke off the lead.
Scott never found his comfort zone on a cool, windy Friday morning, though. He returned at 7:15 a.m. and found the green speeds significantly faster than on Thursday. Scott promptly bogeyed the 12th, 14th and 17th holes, as well as doubled No. 15, to finish with a first-round 72.
"There was a lot of holes and it was tricky this morning when we came out," Scott said. "I got off on the wrong foot and just struggled to find my rhythm all day. I didn't make the putts I needed to kind of save some shots here and there. And they just slipped away too easily.
"But that's what can happen if you're just a little bit off."
Scott felt he played better Friday afternoon but just didn't make anything. He only had one birdie in the second round -- and unfortunately, he also had six bogeys, including four in a row starting at the third hole.
"I was a little disappointed with the way I played today," Scott said. "Like I said, I just lost my rhythm early this morning when it was a bit cold and windy and just fought with it all day long and the putter kind of cooled off. So I would have liked to make some putts and then you're always happy."
Scott won't be happy, of course, if he ends up missing the cut. "But I'll deal with that when it happens," he said.
And if he does survive to play the final two rounds? Well, Scott thinks anyone who is playing on the weekend has a shot.
"It's possible," he said. "I mean, I still see those, you know, 4 or 5 unders possible. It's difficult, but it's still possible with it soft. You just have to hit every shot perfect. And for one day, I mean, it is doable.
"So someone who just makes the cut could have a great round Saturday and kind of move their way back into the tournament. I don't see that beyond the realm of possibility, yeah. It's out there, for sure."
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- For the third straight major championship, a viewer called in a possible rules violation.
Only this time, there were no penalties issued. Steve Stricker and Adam Scott were both cleared of any potential breach.
The first review in the opening round at Merion Golf Club came after Stricker had completed his round.
On the par-3 third hole (his 11th), Stricker's ball had come to rest under a tree and he would have been forced to stand in a bunker to hit it. Rules officials deemed the ball to be outside the bunker, however, and when Stricker searched for a spot to take the drop a viewer questioned whether Stricker was improving his lie.
Officials were convinced he wasn't, however, nor did Stricker drop it in the area where he'd paced back and forth.
He went on to double bogey the hole and shot 71.
Hours later, USGA executive director Mike Davis and chairman of the USGA competition committee Tom O'Toole, spoke to Scott after a viewer thought had grounded his club in a hazard on the fifth hole.
Scott had just putted out for birdie on the 11th hole to move within a stroke of the lead when play was suspended for darkness and he was approached by Davis and O'Toole.
After reviewing the tape, however, it was determined there was no breach. The walking official with the group, Reed Mackenzie, also agreed.
Earlier this year, Tiger Woods was assessed a two-stroke penalty for taking an improper drop on the 15th hole in the second round of the Masters.
In Woods' case, the call saved him from possible disaqualification because he wasn't notified of the possible violation until after he'd signed his scorecard, even though it was called in before he completed his round.
Woods went on to finish fourth.
At last year's PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, Carl Pettersson was given a two-stroke penalty on the first hole of the final round when his club brushed a leaf while standing in a hazard.
Pettersson was notified during the round aftera viewer had called in and he would eventually finish nine shots back of winner Rory McIlroy.
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott play together in the first two rounds of the U.S. Open
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- The first time the USGA decided to pair the top three players in the world together for the first two rounds of the U.S. Open was in 2008 at Torrey Pines.
Two of the three -- No. 1 Tiger Woods and No. 3 Adam Scott -- are back in that grouping again on Thursday (1:14 p.m. ET) and Friday (7:44 a.m.) at Merion Golf Club for the 113th renewal the U.S. Open. Phil Mickelson, though, has been replaced by Rory McIlroy, who is now the No. 2 player in the world.
"I think it will be fantastic," Woods said. "I was part of that the first time they did it in '08. And it was very electric out there. I know they've done it a few more times. ... For me it's been fantastic. Normally we don't get those types of pairings very often.
"When you do it just makes it that much more enjoyable for us as players."
Scott, who comes to Merion as the only player with the chance to win the Grand Slam this year after his breakthrough victory at the Masters, remembers feeling like the third wheel back in 20008. Not that it was a surprise or anything.
"I think anyone would have felt like the third wheel that week," Scott said. "Remembering back to Torrey Pines, the hype was enormous around that pairing. Obviously with Tiger and Phil, it was so much to talk about with it being Phil's hometown and Tiger dominating at Torrey for years. And it was a great pairing.
"It was an experience that I'll never forget. I've never seen that many people on a Thursday morning on the first tee. It was a great atmosphere."
Scott knows the focus this week remains on the top two players. Woods is seeking his fourth U.S. Open -- and his first major since beating Rocco Mediate in a playoff at Torrey Pines. McIlroy, who has been a tad inconsistent of late, is going after his second U.S. Open in three years, as well as his third major overall.
"I think this year obviously there's a lot of focus on Tiger and Rory," Scott said. "I know what to expect out there, I think. ... I'm probably also the third wheel this week, as well. That's why I'm No. 3 in the world, otherwise I wouldn't be the third wheel, I guess."
McIlroy said he wasn't surprised by the pairing. He thinks it could help get him off to a good start.
"It's always nice to be a part of a group like that," the young Northern Irishman said. "Something that I'm excited about. It's a good thing. I like it because you're in a group like than there's a lot of buzz and a lot of atmosphere around it and it gets you focus from the first shot."
Adam Scott will play the U.S. Open's first two rounds with the world's top two players. (Hallowell/Getty Images)
Adam Scott is the No. 3 player in the world and the reigning Masters champion. He may be overshadowed by the other two players in his group for the U.S .Open's first two rounds, though. That's because he's playing with the two players ahead of him in the Official World Golf Ranking: Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
"I think this year obviously there's a lot of focus on Tiger and Rory," Scott said Monday from Merion Golf Club. Can Woods resume his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' major championships record? Can McIlroy find the form he showed in 2012, and win a major for the third consecutive season?
Woods is seeking his first major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open. He's won four times in eight PGA TOUR starts in 2013, but is coming off a T-65, including a third-round 79, at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance. McIlroy has yet to win after claiming four PGA TOUR titles in 2012, including the PGA Championship and two FedExCup Playoffs events. He has finished in the top-10 in four of nine TOUR starts this year, but only seriously contended at the Valero Texas Open.
Scott tied for 15th at last year's U.S. Open, his best showing in that championship. He's played alongside Nos. 1 and 2 in this event before. He also was No. 3 in the OWGR when the USGA first grouped the world's top three players at the U.S. Open, in 2008 at Torrey Pines. His played alongside Woods and Phil Mickelson for the first two rounds that year.
"I think anyone would have felt like the third wheel that week," Scott said. "The hype was enormous around that pairing. I've never seen that many people on a Thursday morning on the first tee. It was a great atmosphere. ... I don't know that I'm probably also the third wheel this week. That's why I'm No. 3 in the world, otherwise I wouldn't be the third wheel, I guess."
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
The USGA saved its best U.S. Open grouping for first. The organization took to Twitter on Friday to announce that the world's top three players - Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott - would play together in the first two rounds at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. The rest of the groupings were announced hours later.
Woods, McIlroy and Scott will tee off at 1:14 p.m. Thursday off of Merion's first tee. They'll start their second round at 7:44 a.m. Friday on Merion's 11th hole. The USGA first grouped the world's top three players at the 2008 U.S. Open. Woods and Scott were both in that group at Torrey Pines, along with Phil Mickelson. Woods won that U.S. Open in 2008, while Scott finished 26th after opening with consecutive 73s.
McIlroy will complete the trio this time. He tweeted, "Decent group for the first 2 rounds at Merion I see...," after the grouping was announced.
Some other notable U.S. Open tee times:
* Cliff Kresge will hit the championship's first tee shot at 6:45 a.m. off Merion's first tee. He'll be joined by Roger Tambellini and a player to be determined.
* The first group off Merion's 11th tee will feature three of the game's biggest hitters: Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Nicolas Colsaerts. They'll tee off at 7 a.m. All groups beginning on the back nine will tee off on Merion's 11th hole.
* The star-studded trio of Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Keegan Bradley will be the second group off No. 11. They're scheduled to tee off at 7:11 a.m.
* Three of the pre-tournament favorites - Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose and Brandt Snedeker - will tee off No. 11 at 7:22 a.m. They are Nos. 4, 5 and 6 in the Official World Golf Ranking, respectively.|
* Three of South Africa's top players -- Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel and Tim Clark -- are in the 7:33 a.m. grouping off No. 11. Oosthuizen is No. 9 in the Official World Golf Ranking, while Schwartzel is ranked 15th.
* Two Open Championship winners, Padraig Harrington and Stewart Cink, are paired with one of the best players without a major championship victory, Sergio Garcia. Harrington beat Garcia in a playoff at the 2007 Open Championship. They're teeing off at 7:44 a.m. on the 11th hole.
* England's Ian Poulter will play with two Southerners, Jason Dufner of Auburn, Ala., and Boo Weekley of East Milton, Fla., in the first two rounds. They tee off at 7:55 a.m. Thursday on the 11th hole.
* Three young, charismatic stars will be in the 8:06 grouping off the 11th tee: Rickie Fowler, Matteo Manassero and Jason Day.
* Three former world No. 1s will tee off at 12:52 p.m. when Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer begin play at No. 1.
* Three major champions, as well as two of the contenders from last year's U.S. Open, are in the 1:03 p.m. grouping off No. 1: Jim Furyk, Graeme McDowell and Zach Johnson.
* Three players who represented the USGA in international team competition are in the 1:18 p.m. grouping off No. 11: Scott Langley (2010 World Amateur Team Championship), amateur Chris Williams (2011 Walker Cup) and Morgan Hoffmann (2009 Walker Cup). Hoffmann may have the most competitive experience at Merion of anyone in the field. He made match play in the 2005 U.S. Amateur there and went 2-0-1 in the 2009 Walker Cup.
* The 1:29 p.m. grouping off No. 11 features three U.S. Amateur runners-up: Michael Thompson (2007), amateur Michael Weaver (2012) and Casey Wittenberg (2003). Thompson (T-2) and Wittenberg (T-10) both finished in the top 10 at last year's U.S. Open.| Weaver is one of three Cal golfers in the field. Teammates Michael Kim and Max Homa advanced through sectional qualifying.
* Defending champion Webb Simpson will tee off at 1:36 p.m. off of No. 1 when he plays in the traditional grouping with the U.S. Amateur champion (Steven Fox) and Open Championship winner (Ernie Els).
* The 2:02 p.m. group off No. 11 includes two players who won on the PGA TOUR this year and made big leaps in the Official World Golf Ranking. Kevin Streelman, winner of the Tampa Bay Championship, has lept from 225th to 36th in the world. Shell Houston Open winner D.A. Points has moved from 148th to 49th. Bo Van Pelt, the world's 27th-ranked player, is the third member of the group.
* The next group off No. 11 also features two players who won on the PGA TOUR this year: HP Byron Nelson Championship winner Sang-Moon Bae and Sony Open in Hawaii winner Russell Henley. They'll be joined by Branden Grace, the world's No. 31 player.
* The 2:24 p.m. group on No. 11 features three young talents: Hideki Matsuyama, 21; Jordan Spieth, 19; and Billy Horschel, 26. Matsuyama twice made the cut in the Masters after winning the Asia-Pacific Amateur; he turned pro this year and already is No. 63 in the Official World Golf Ranking after going 1st-2nd-2nd-1st in his past four Japan Tour starts. Spieth, 19, is in his first season as a professional and already has earned more than $900,000 on the PGA TOUR. Horschel won this year's Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Adam Scott captured PGA TOUR Player of the Month presented by Avis honors in April for his playoff victory at the Masters, where he became the first Australian to win a Green Jacket. The Aussie got 58 percent of the vote, while Billy Horschel was second with just under 31 percent after a third, ninth and his first career win, which came in New Orleans. Graeme McDowell and Martin Laird finished third and fourth, respectively.
Send Scott your congratulations below.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- The final pairing of Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia tees off at 2:40 p.m. on Saturday. Here's a closer look at each of them, plus who and what else to watch for this afternoon at TPC Sawgrass.
Webb Simpson (1:30 p.m. ET): The reigning U.S. Open champion seemed to turn the corner at Hilton Head, where he finished second after losing in a playoff. This week, he's third in fairways hit and enters Saturday five back.
Jason Dufner (1:30 p..m ET): He had six birdies and just one bogey in the second round and is one of the best ball-strikers in the game. He also finished sixth here two years ago.
Zach Johnson (1:50 p.m. ET): The last four finishes for Johnson here: T32, T22, T12, T2. See the trend? A couple late bogeys on Friday hurt, but Johnson is still in the mix four back.
Adam Scott (1:50 p.m. ET): Playing for the first time since his Masters victory, Scott is in position to go after his second PLAYERS title (he won here in 2004). He's just four shots back.
Hunter Mahan (2 p.m. ET): After struggling in his last few starts, Mahan has turned it around here, hitting 75 percent of his greens in regulation.
Matt Kuchar (2 p.m. ET): No player has ever won this tournament two years in a row. After a 66 Friday, Kuchar has a chance and enters the third round just four shots back.
Ryan Palmer (2:20 p.m. ET): The Texan is playing with a heavy heart after a longtime friend was killed in a car accident Thursday night. He's wearing the initials "CA" on his hat in honor of him.
Henrik Stenson (2:20 p.m. ET): The 2009 champion is in contention again after making two eagles in the second round (on the par-5 second and ninth holes). When he won here four years ago, he shot a final-round 66.
Lee Westwood (2:30 p.m. ET): The Englishman has finished fourth, fifth and sixth here. All that's missing is a win. He's the only player without a bogey through the first two rounds.
Tiger Woods (2:40 p.m. ET): It's been a dozen years since Woods has won here, but he said all facets of his game are clicking right now and it's showed so far with his best 36-hole start in his history here.
Sergio Garcia (2:40 p.m. ET): Like Woods, Garcia has won here before (in 2008), but he's struggled at times playing alongside the world No. 1 with five his last six rounds in the 70s when the two have been paired.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Robert Castro opened with a course record-tying 63 to take a three-shot lead on Thursday. Whether he still has that lead by the time he tees off Friday afternoon, who knows. Conditions appear to be good for scoring again and already a few players -- Tiger Woods among them -- have started to make a move. Here's a look at who and what to watch for this afternoon.
Roberto Castro (12:46 p.m. ET): A big reason Castro was able to go so low in the opening round was because he hit close -- six of his approach shots were inside 5 feet. That will be a tall order come the afternoon when the wind is expected to increase along with the temperature, making for a firm, fast golf course.
Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler (1:18 p.m. ET): After failing to break 70 in 16 of his last 17 rounds, which included a pair of missed cuts and two other finishes near the bottom of the leaderboard, Mahan was "stress free" with a 67 Thursday. Given his accuracy, he should fare well here (two years ago, he finished sixth). Fowler, on the other hand, struggled to a 73 and will have some ground to make up to make the cut.
Keegan Bradley, Graeme McDowell (1:28 p.m. ET): Both were 2 under on Thursday, and McDowell comes into this week having recently won at another Pete Dye course (Harbour Town).
Zach Johnson (1:49 p.m. ET): Perhaps lost in all the headlines Thursday was Johnson, who was superb with seven birdies and just one bogey. Johnson has played progressively better here the last three years, finishing 32nd, 22nd, 12th and second.
Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker, Adam Scott (1:49 p.m. ET): McIlroy finally broke par here with a sublime 66 in the opening round and he finally appears to be comfortable around this place. His last two wins have also come on Pete Dye courses. Stricker was nearly as good with a 67 and between the three the group made just two bogeys.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- It was golf’s version of H-O-R-S-E, and Rory McIlroy wouldn’t give up the tee box to Steve Stricker.
“Steve and I halved every hole for the first 11 holes,” McIlroy said. “We both birdied the exact same holes.”
They shot nearly identical scores, too -- McIlroy a 6-under 66 and Stricker a 67 in the opening round of THE PLAYERS Championship.
The third member of the group, 2004 PLAYERS champion, Adam Scott wasn’t too bad, either. He shot 69.
“I think when you get all three guys playing well in a group, you sort of feed off one another,” McIlroy said. “It was a good group to be a part of.”
It was a good round for McIlroy, too, beyond just the score.
In three previous trips here, McIlroy had never made the cut or broken par. Thursday, he made six birdies and no bogeys, turning in 31 after starting on the back nine.
If there was something that McIlroy, who just turned 24, learned in his previous appearances, it’s that he doesn’t need to hit driver often at TPC Sawgrass.
In the past, he would hit the big club on Nos. 2, 5, 7 and 9. And that was on just the front nine. “Maybe six or seven drivers last year,” McIlroy added.
Thursday, he didn’t any drivers on the front nine, and he hit just three overall (on Nos. 11, 14 and 16).
“There is no point,” he said. “The par‑5s on the front nine, for example, there is no point hitting driver off either one of those for me because I'm still going to reach the green with a 3‑wood off the tee if I want to.
“I'm playing nine as a three-shotter this week; I don't think I'll go for the green once. And the second hole I was still hitting iron in after hitting 3‑wood off the tee.”
The point McIlroy is making is that it is more important to keep his ball in the fairway.
“Once you do that,” he said. “The way I feel like I'm hitting my irons, I can take advantage of that.”
Everyone in the group did, too, with 16 birdies and just two bogeys between the three.
“I was a little surprised when I teed off that someone was 5 under already,” said Scott, playing for the first time since winning the Masters. “I thought it might play a little tougher than that. But it was ideal. There wasn't even a breath of wind hardly the front nine. The greens seemed pretty receptive, too, so if you were in the fairway you could attack.”
For McIlroy, a consistent swing has allowed him to do just that in recent weeks after struggling in the beginning of the season. In his last three starts, McIlroy has finished 10th, 25th and second.
“I'm definitely a lot more relaxed coming in here this year,” said McIlroy, who last two wins happen to come on Pete Dye-designed courses. “Whatever I do this week what I felt coming in is I'll do better than I ever have before. I feel like I've got the game to contend. I just wanted to go out and play well, and that's what I've done so far.”
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Adam Scott was 23 years old when he won THE PLAYERS Championship in 2004.
He thought the victory in the PGA TOUR's signature event would be a catalyst to success, and in many ways it was. Scott won five times in the next six years, including the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, which at the time attracted the top 30 money winners on TOUR and now does the same for those in the FedExCup standings.
But the talented Aussie didn't win his first World Golf Championships event until 2011 when he was 31 and his first major until last month's Masters. He has the benefit of experience now, and the man who squandered a four-stroke lead with four holes remaining at last year's British Open knows how hard winning really is.
"I think it definitely put the expectations up," Scott said of THE PLAYERS win. "But at that age and where I was at, it just all happened kind of easily, and you just expect it to keep happening. And I won other tournaments, but looking back on it I felt winning this tournament at that young age put me on a springboard to become one of the best players in the world and continue to win big tournaments.
"This is a very, very big tournament, and by that I mean World Golf (Championships) events and majors and THE PLAYERS, and it didn't happen. I won some TOUR events and other events around the world, but it didn't get me into a position where I was consistently performing well in big events. I think I know why now. I just wasn't structured enough back then, but that's young and it's all coming a bit too easy at that point, I think."
Scott found out it wasn't easy, though. He had a dismal stretch in 2009 when he missed the cut in nine of 12 starts, including six straight, before Greg Norman made him a controversial Captain's Pick for the Presidents Cup -- and the faith of Scott's idol helped turned his game around.
"It's a different game now," Scott said, reflecting on THE PLAYERS win. "There are so many guys with so much talent working so hard, and that's got to be the mantra for everyone out here, otherwise you're just not going to achieve. Back then your talent could show up on a week, like it did here at THE PLAYERS that year, and everything went my way.
"Now to give yourself the best chance you kind of have to have the steps in place to do that. That's what I see with the guys out here now, so talented and working so hard that you'd better be doing that or you're not going to compete."