With the 108th US Open not much more than a round old, a fair number of stars are already in trouble, not the least of them being Sergio Garcia

With the 108th US Open not much more than one round old, a fair number of stars are already in trouble, not the least of them being Sergio Garcia, this year’s pre-tournament media favourite and the perhaps the natural successor to Phil Mickelson as the best golfer never to have won a major.
Unfortunately golf is actually two different games all rolled into one.
Hitting driver, fairway woods, utility clubs and a variety of irons is one side of the game – and a side the little Spaniard does very well.
But then there is putting which, if played in regulation, uses up as many as half the strokes in any level par round on a par 72 course.
Sadly some players have no consistency when using the flat stick, notably Garcia, who, when he has an off day with his putter, he binges – like he did at Torrey Pines on Thursday when he shot an opening 76 and slid eight shots behind the unheralded leaders he probably didn’t even know existed.
He was in good company, though.
Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen is alongside him and trailing behind are some of Europe’s finest Ryder Cup players including Padraig Harrington (78), the reigning Open Champion, Colin Montgomerie (79), the winner of more European Order of Merit crowns than anyone else, England’s Paul Casey (79) and Ian Poulter (78) and Sweden’s Niclas Fasth and Henrik Stenson (both 78s) .
Justin Rose (79), currently Europe highest World Ranked player and sure to make his Ryder Cup debut this year, is also down in the nether regions – along with defending champion Angel Cabrera (79) and 2007 champion Michael Campbell (78).
Any golf promoter worth his salt would give his eye teeth to include stars of this calibre in his field, yet all of them could be gone, even without any wind, by the weekend.
It says something about golf and what a funny, maddening game it is.
It probably brings greater peaks of agony and ecstasy than any other game we have ever played, which is why, once bitten, we keep going back for more.,
It also says something about Tiger Woods, who never seems to get himself into this kind of jam. He is human, of course, and he has missed cuts, but it is such a rarity you could probably count the number on the fingers of one hand.
It will be interesting to see how many of the above stragglers pick up their games enough today (Friday) to make it through to the weekend.
Any bets?

Neville Leck