Hossler sends Tiger down memory lane

As strolls down memory lane go, this was one Tiger Woods

probably would have preferred to skip.

By end of play Friday, Woods was tied for the lead with Jim

Furyk and David Toms at 1-under 139. After his round, Woods was

asked about Beau Hossler, the 17-year-old amateur who held the lead

briefly before slipping into a tie for ninth at 3 over.

”Well, a long way to go,” Woods began. ”And I kind of

experienced that actually myself at Oakland Hills, same deal, first

round, made a few mistakes after that.”

A few mistakes?

As a 20-year-old in the opening round, Woods was 3-under par

standing in the 14th fairway and tied for the lead in the 1996 U.S.

Open. He proceeded to go bogey, double bogey, quadruple bogey,

bogey, bogey. By the time he tapped in at No. 18, Woods was tied

for 126th place in the field of 156.

THAT SINKING FEELING: As it turned out, Phil Mickelson didn’t

need the nervy 8-foot birdie putt he made on No. 18, because he

would have made it to the weekend at 8-over 148.

But it was nice to see one finally drop.

”I had multiple chances and I was just fractionally off on the

greens,” Mickelson said. ”I just didn’t make any until the last

putt. I think the longest putt I made (before that) was four

feet.”

A 71 after his opening-round 76 left Mickelson at 7-over 147,

tied for 51st.

”I played well enough today to shoot under par and I have to

shoot three or 4 under tomorrow to have a chance Sunday,”

Mickelson said. ”It’s out there,” he said, but it’s very

difficult. You’ve got to strike it well, but you’ve got to make

some putts and that’s the one part that kind of let me down

today.”

Other than the final hole, of course.

FRIENDLY FOE: One way to describe the relationship between LSU

alums David Toms and John Peterson is teacher and student. For one

afternoon at The Olympic Club, though, they’ll be competitors.

”Know him very well,” said Toms, tied for the lead with Tiger

Woods and Jim Furyk. `I was there on the football field during his

recruiting trip to LSU, and we kind of looked at each other and I

knew he was coming. So he lives in Baton Rouge now and he’s a great

kid.

`I tried to I guess mentor him as much as I can. He asks me a

lot of questions. He’s going to be a really good player. Whether

it’s this week or some other week, he just needs the

opportunities.”

Toms recalled how Peterson’s dad followed him around the last 36

holes when he when at Colonial last year ”rooting me on the whole

way.”

That explained why the veteran said, ”I hope he plays great

this weekend.”

ARRIVE LATE, LEAVE EARLY: Luke Donald doesn’t regret not coming

to The Olympic Club ahead of the U.S. Open to learn the golf

course.

He’s not sure how he could have applied any lesson.

Donald had a 72 on Friday and finished at 11-over 151, missing

the cut for the second time in the last four majors. No other

player has been at No. 1 longer than Donald without ever winning a

major. He has tried playing the week before a major and taking a

week off, so he’s still searching for the right formula because he

said he felt uncomfortable with his swing all week.

Would course knowledge have helped?

”I’ve tried various things,” Donald said. ”The problem these

days when we play majors is the week before is nothing like when

you get to Thursday – even Wednesday was different to Thursday.

They have a knack to get this course playing differently. When it

comes to turning up on Thursday morning, it seems like a different

animal. I certainly don’t regret anything that I did before teeing

up on Thursday.

”I just didn’t come here swinging well enough, and obviously my

putter was a bit cold this week.”

If there was any consolation, Donald finally made his first

birdie on his 24th hole of the tournament, and wound up with three

of them. They just weren’t enough to overcome five bogeys or give

himself a reasonable chance to play on the weekend.

”I think it was more a case of just not quite feeling too

comfortable with the swing this week,” Donald said. ”And that

happens – not just major weeks, but other weeks, too. But

unfortunately at major weeks, that’s going to be magnified even

more.

”I was a little off,” he said. ”And that’s not going to get

you on a U.S. Open course.”

KUCHAR COMMENT: Matt Kuchar made it sound as if different isn’t

always better when it comes to the leaderboard at the U.S.

Open.

He was asked about Jim Furyk, who had a 69 on Friday to get

under par for the tournament, in context of U.S. Open players.

Kuchar suggested Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus had done well in the

U.S. Open (four titles each), in part because they hit the ball

high and far.

”A guy like Lee Trevino probably would not have fared as well

at the Masters or U.S. Open – probably would fare well a lot of

other places,” he said.

Trevino never won a Masters. But he did win the U.S. Open twice,

once in a playoff over Nicklaus.

Asked about the high scores for some of the big names, Kuchar

again offered a curious answer.

”I think maybe it’s just a facet of that it’s U.S. Open golf,”

he said. ”It’s so different that you’re not always going to get

the best guys up on top of the leaderboard. It’s so difficult that

I think sometimes you get guys that you are not used to hearing

about. You don’t always get the best of the best in the top of the

leaderboard at the U.S. Open.”

RICKIE’S RECOVERY: The biggest scare Rickie Fowler had at the

U.S. Open had nothing to do with Olympic Club.

It was his Titleist.

In a mystery that remains unsolved, a rogue golf ball got into

Fowler’s bag before the first round, complete with the orange dot

he uses to distinguish it. When he went to tee up his ball on his

second hole, he noticed by the markings that it was the 2007

version of the Pro V1.

The problem? Fowler uses the 2009 version.

The rules don’t allow players to switch the model of a golf ball

in the middle of a round, thus the scare. That was the only such

ball Fowler had, meaning he would have to use that the rest of the

day and hope he didn’t lose it.

Luckily for Fowler, he saw his agent in the gallery, and sent

him up the steep hill to the clubhouse to find more of the 2007

version. The mission was a success, and Fowler had enough of the

2007 balls to get him through his round of 72.

Fowler said he used the 2007 version for his first few years,

and it wasn’t enough of a difference to affect him.

A SLOW BURN: A USGA rules official warned the group of Ian

Poulter, Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar that they were about to go

on the clock for being out of position. This did not sit well with

Poulter, who said the group would speed up only to stand around and

wait.

That’s exactly what happened one hole later, all three of them

standing in the sixth fairway for about five minutes as the group

ahead was on the green.

Told that the group was no longer on the clock, it was all

Poulter could take.

”Why are you doing this?” Poulter said to the official, who

wanted no part of an argument and simply shrugged his shoulders.

”This is stupid.”

Stricker was not thrilled with the move either, being put on the

clock for less than a hole. Poulter wouldn’t let it go, however,

and said he wanted to speak to another official. Minutes later,

European Tour chief referee Andy McFee arrived in a cart.

The conversation could not be heard, but it began with McFee

sternly holding up his hand and saying, ”Calm down.”

It didn’t affect Poulter too much. From the rough, he hit a

fairway metal near the green and got his par.

DIVOTS: Dennis Miller, made famous for a putt that hung on the

lip and then dropped after a second to earn his first trip to the

U.S. Open, didn’t get to hang around for the weekend. He had rounds

of 80-82 to miss the cut. … Nick Watney was asked on whether to

blame the tough conditions on Rory McIlroy winning at 16-under 268

last year at Congressional. ”No, it’s not his fault. He set all

kind of records like we talked about, so I think we all kind of

knew that the USGA was going to come out firing this year, and they

haven’t disappointed.”