Stats & Info: Ben Crenshaw

Woods rolls, Mickelson and Watson falter

June, 14, 2012

Harry How/Getty ImagesWoods broke par in the 1st Round at the U.S. Open for the first time since 2002.
The premier group of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson certainly provided varied results in the 1st Round of the U.S. Open at The Olympic Club. While Mickelson and Masters champion Watson struggled mightily, Woods cruised to a 1-under 69.

In 17 U.S. Open events, Woods has now finished under par four times in the 1st Round, but Thursday marked the first time since 2002 that he has accomplished that feat. Woods has never finished worse than third in the previous three occasions, and what's more, has gone on to win twice.

Woods is a 3-time U.S. Open champion, and with his next win will tie Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones and Willie Anderson for the most U.S. Open wins.

It was a completely different story for Watson, however, as he carded eight holes of bogey or worse en route to a 78. That nearly matches the worst 1st Round at a U.S. Open by the reigning Masters champion, which is held by Ben Crenshaw (80 in 1984).

It wasn't a huge surprise, as Watson had never faired well in the 1st Round in five previous U.S. Open appearances. Entering today, he had never had a 1st Round under par and was +11 overall.

As for Mickelson, his 1st Round was not much better. He tied his career worst 1st Round at the U.S. Open by carding a 76, and began a major with three scores worse than par for the first time as a professional.

Mickelson and Watson may want to play with someone different Friday. In his last two competitive rounds, Woods has watched playing partner Rickie Fowler shoot 84 (+12) in the Final Round of the Memorial Tournament and now Watson and Mickelson combine to shoot +14 today.

Westwood a major threat ... as usual

April, 6, 2012

Tim Dominick/The State/MCT via Getty Images
Since the beginning of 2009, 49 rounds have been held in major championships, Lee Westwood has been in the top-10 following 21 of them during that span, the most among all golfers.
Lee Westwood shot an opening-round 67 of the Masters Tournament and stood alone at the top of the leaderboard at 5-under-par. Westwood has never won a major, but this was the third time he opened a major with a 67 (all coming in the Masters), and the previous two times he finished in second place.

Since the beginning of 2009, there have been 49 rounds in major championships. Westwood has been in the top 10 following 21 of them - 41.7 percent.

History tells us leading, or at least sharing the lead, after the first round of the Masters does not bode well. Just one player in the previous 27 years has won the Masters after holding at least a share of the first-round lead. That was Trevor Immelman, who was tied with Justin Rose after the first round in 2008. The last player to win the Masters after holding the outright first-round lead was Ben Crenshaw in 1984.

Player Notes
Tiger Woods shot an even-par 72 and was tied for 29th after the opening round. That might sound like he’s out of contention, but the last time he was this far back after the opening round was 2005 when he was tied for 33rd. That year he went on to win the Masters, his last win there. Looking ahead to Friday, he’ll hope to repeat that 2005 success. He shot a 66 in the second round en route to his win.

After a double bogey on 1, Rory McIlroy had played 10 consecutive holes at the Masters in 9-over par. However, McIlroy birdied 17 and 18 – one of two players to accomplish that Thursday (Louis Oosthuizen) – and finished at 1-under. McIlroy hit just 6 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens.

Phil Mickelson triple-bogeyed the 10th hole, but rallied to birdie three of the final six holes. Mickelson’s putter saved him (a first-round low 25 putts), as he hit only eight of 18 greens and nine of 14 fairways. The triple bogey was the second of his Masters career (in his 75th round). His other triple bogey was on the first hole in the fourth round of the 2007 Masters.

Other Notables
Adam Scott's 75 snapped a streak of six straight round of par or better at the Masters.

Padraig Harrington's 71 was his first sub-par round at the Masters since the first round in 2009.

After an opening-round 71, Steve Stricker has six straight rounds of par or better at the Masters.

Francesco Molinari's 69 was his best career round at the Masters.

Course Info
• Hole No. 1 played the toughest Thursday (4.379). Only three players made birdie (Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Dufner, Peter Hanson).
• Predictably, the 11th hole was second toughest (4.368), yielding only three birdies as well (Ben Crane, Vijay Singh, Hanson).
• No. 16 rated the third toughest (3.168). The only birdies there coming from Sang-Moon Bae, Francesco Molinari and Chez Reavie.
• There were eight eagles, with half coming from two players – Henrik Stenson and Paul Lawrie.