Olympic’s first 6 living up to nasty Open billing

Seventeen-year-old Beau Hossler had sole possession of the lead

at the U.S. Open on Friday after a birdie on No. 1.

Then reality hit for the California amateur on a stretch at The

Olympic Club billed as the hardest start in tournament history.

He bogeyed No. 2, doubled No. 4 and bogeyed Nos. 5 and 6 to drop

off the leaderboard.

”It’s just tough to have fun out there,” said 2010 U.S. Open

champ Graeme McDowell, who also had bogeys at Nos. 1, 5 and 6 on

Friday along with a birdie at No. 3.

Sergio Garcia could attest to that.

He smashed a microphone on the third tee after his shot came up

short on the downhill par 3 and he could be seen pounding another

club three holes later.

Rickie Fowler maintained his composure. But it wasn’t easy after

he took a triple-bogey 7 on No. 1 after driving left into the

bushes, then three-putting the tricky green.

James Hahn didn’t fare much better, hitting his tee shot 50

yards left, out of bounds, and through a tunnel that leads to a

par-3 course.

Even many who found the fairway found trouble afterward.

”We have heard a lot about (the first six holes) and today I

helped with the high stroke average,” quipped Nick Watney, who

went bogey-double bogey-bogey on the first three and was 6 over

through the first nine Friday.

”It’s just difficult. When it’s cold like this, the ball goes

about a club shorter, so the shots uphill, like No. 2 and No. 4,

play very long. The third hole runs away. I mean it’s just a really

difficult stretch. And if you’re a little bit off it seems like at

this tournament everything is magnified.

”So those six holes definitely demand good golf and if you play

them well, you feel like you can make up a couple of shots. But it

can also ruin your day.”

Tiger Woods played the first six at 1 under on Thursday, but he

was the exception.

Combined, there were 350 bogeys and 57 double bogeys or worse on

the first six in the opening round, and only 40 birdies.

The second round wasn’t much better, with 325 bogeys, 57 doubles

or worse and 49 birdies.

Even Woods saw Olympic’s front teeth.

He was 1 under for the round until his second shot on No. 6 left

him with an awkward stance in a greenside bunker – his ball hanging

in the rough about a foot above. He punched it 20 feet past the

hole up and tried to roll it in from the second cut with a 3-wood

but missed for a bogey-5.

Garcia, meanwhile, went from anger to shock to anger when his

drive on No. 6 clipped a tree just right of the forward tee boxes

and dropped straight down into the deep rough.

For the longest time he held a fairway metal, then pointed to

his caddie how bad the lie was. Finally he opted for a short iron

that he slugged out to just short of the fairway bunker, and walked

toward the fairway swinging his club into the ground.

His third shot still wasn’t on the green but he sank a 10-foot

bogey putt to limit the damage.

After two rounds, he played the first six in 5 over – and the

other 12 at 1 under to reach the weekend at 4-over 144.

It was par for the course.

While McDowell called the course firm but fair, he questioned a

few hole locations.

”I mean … the pin on No. 1 today … is it necessary to put

this on the side of a slope?” said McDowell, who drove left on No.

1 and had to punch out but salvaged bogey with a 10-foot putt.

He certainly felt the 520-yard hole, which played as a par 5 in

1998, was tough enough already.

One competitor suggested it should be a 4 1/2 considering its

scoring average – 4.583 on Thursday.

On Friday, it wasn’t much easier at 4.526. But No. 6, a 489-yard

par 4, had overtaken it as the toughest (4.596) – with as many

bogeys as pars (69) and twice as many double bogeys (10) as birdies

(5).

McDowell would finish the grueling stretch just as he started,

with a bogey. His approach was short next to the left bunker, and

even with a great chip, couldn’t get the putt to drop.

”My day was equally enjoyable as yesterday,” McDowell said

sarcastically, even though he was in contention at 1-over 141.

The key was to forget the mistakes, and try to move on.

Fowler did the best he could and just made the cut at 8-over 148

thanks to birdies at Nos. 16 and 17 on Friday.

”I’ve been playing really well the last few months and had to

try to remember that and keep moving forward,” Fowler said.

Hahn wouldn’t get that chance, missing the cut at 13-over 153,

with three doubles and three bogeys over two rounds in the opening

stretch – topped off by what he called a ”double-cross left”

through the tunnel.

”I was 4 over today on those and 4 over yesterday, and I tried

to get it all back at once on (No. 7),” said Hahn, who took

another double on the 286-yard par-4.

He wasn’t the only one who discovered No. 7 wasn’t much of a

relief.

”I don’t know if you ever get a relief,” Matt Kuchar said.

”Even (No. 7) can go wrong for you pretty quickly. … The first

six holes are tough, but they continue to be tough out there.”