Europe and the U.S. Open
It was supposed to be Europe's U.S. Open, the I first won by a player from the continent since Tony Jacklin in 1970. The game at Pinehurst No. 2 wasn't target golf but follow the bouncing, rolling ball. As it turned out, Europe's most indelible shot last week was not a bump-and-run but a punch.
In Thursday's first round, pre-tournament favorite Jos� Mar�a Olaz�bal hit only five of 14 fairways, seven of 18 greens in regulation and, after making a double bogey on the 18th and signing for a 75, one of four walls in his hotel room with his fist. When Olaz�bal was told he had broken his right hand—he tried to hit balls on Friday morning before withdrawing—the bizarre rang familiar. In the post-Jacklin futility file, the Ollie-wall episode joins those of Seve Ballesteros, who was DQ'd for missing his tee time in 1980, and Colin Montgomerie, who in '92 accepted congratulations on his victory at Pebble Beach only to watch Tom Kite come in with a lower score.
Ollie's 21 fellow European tourists didn't fare much better; a meager eight made the cut. Lee Westwood, who has been bothered by a sore right shoulder but last week pronounced himself fit, was the most notable casualty, making three birdies and fewer friends while shooting 73-76. When a reporter noted before the tournament that European players might do well, Westwood tersely replied, "We have nothing like this in Europe. I don't know why somebody has the impression it's going to suit the European player. That's just a proviso in case one of us wins."
Paired with Tiger Woods and Corey Pavin, Westwood displayed the ears of a rabbit, the eyes of an owl and the putting stroke of a mason. In Thursday's first round, after he missed a short par putt on the 222-yard par-3 6th hole, Westwood glared at a greenside photographer and muttered an expletive. He bogeyed two of the next three holes, and after the round, when asked about the lensmen—cue violins—he said, "They seemed to be under the impression that there was only one person in the three ball."
Montgomerie was in better spirits on Thursday after he salvaged a 72 with birdies on numbers 17 and 18. But when a reporter asked him what he shot, Monty reacted as if he'd been asked who picked out his shirt (a query he'd answered in evident disbelief earlier in the week). Said Montgomerie, "Is that the first question? What did I shoot? That's the best one yet."
After round 1 Darren Clarke eyed the scores—Thomas Bj�rn, Sven Str�ver and Mathias Gr�nberg had all shot 70, three strokes off the pace—and wondered what had gone wrong. "I thought there would have been more of us at the top of the leader board," Clarke said. On Friday, it got worse. West-wood took 34 putts and was done. Bj�rn and Gr�nberg each shot 78 and also missed the cut. That left Clarke and Miguel Angel Jimenez, who each shot 70 in the second round, as the only ones within six shots of the lead, and Phillip Price and Montgomerie seven back. None factored on the weekend, although Clarke tied for 10th.
Montgomerie, who turned 36 on June 23, finished 15th. He is 0 for 55 as a pro in the U.S., and still majorless. Westwood sounded as if he'd been taking grumpy lessons from Monty. Nick Faldo, who turns 42 next month, shot 74-74 and missed the cut Olaz�bal is iffy for the British Open in three weeks as the focus shifts from his foot to his hand. With only two of the last 21 majors won by Europeans, compared with seven of the 21 before that, the Euros might consider examining their heads.
USGA's Timers Could Be Tamer
For the second straight year, Payne Stewart was in the final pairing on the back nine of the U.S. Open when he learned he was being watched like a soft-boiled egg by the USGA He and partner Phil Mickelson were told by USGA vice president Trey Holland that they would be on the clock on the 12th hole because they had fallen too far behind the twosome in front of them. If they didn't speed up, they would be dealt a two-stroke penalty for turtle-like play on the turtle-back greens.