What the leading Brits said
Paul Casey is delighted that he will take a share of the lead into Friday’s second round of the 110th US Open.
Paul Casey is delighted that he will take a share of the lead into Friday’s second round of the 110th US Open – especially as he has achieved it at such a revered venue as Pebble Beach Links.
And English compatriots, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald, both well placed and close behind him, each preached patience as the key to US Open success at this toughened up course.
Casey birdied the famous 18th hole, one of the most revered and challenging layouts in America, to card a two-under-par 69 last night and join American blast from the past, Shaun Micheel, and Brendon De Jonge of Zimbabwe in the first-round lead.
The trio’s 69 is the lowest leading first-round score at a US Open since Colin Montgomerie posted the same at Winged Foot in 2006.
And they lead a championship that, when held the previous four times on the Californian course, has produced champions of the calibre of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite and Tiger Woods.
“Certainly, I wanted to make that putt on the last,” Casey said. “I’m not sure what anybody else has done but I thought leading would be quite cool, especially around Pebble Beach.
“This is a fantastic year for majors in terms of where we’re playing,” he added with reference to next month’s Open Championship at St Andrews.
“I haven’t been back here in a long time. It’s moved up on my list of courses because I must admit most of the times I’ve played here at the AT&T (annual PGA Tour event in February) it’s been a bit difficult to smile while going around this golf course because of the weather, but it was truly great out there today.”
Ian Poulter, the world number six, and Luke Donald, the world number seven, will, meantime start Friday’s second round at one-under par and level-par respectively, just off the pace.
Poulter crafted a three-birdie, two-bogey opening 70 on the Monterey Peninsula layout while Donald had two birdies and a double bogey on his card in a 71 as they began their bids for a first major victory.
“You have to stay patient or you will be going home pretty quickly around this place,” Poulter said.
“If you get a little bit impatient and take on a shot you shouldn’t, you can make triple bogey very quickly.”
Patience was key for Poulter at the oceanside 18th, where he found sand three times on the way to a par at one of the most famous closing holes in championship golf.
“Well it’s technically two bunkers, but it’s just a very big one on the left there,” he said with a laugh. “It was very bucket and spade like, wasn’t it?
“But you have to grind. Obviously you’re not going to miss it left off the tee, and the right bunker’s not disastrous to go in. I mean I had a great lie with a four iron and really I should have put it in play.
“I hit what I thought was a nice shot, but it turned over in the wind and kind of had a ball that was sitting a little down from 99 yards.
“And that’s never an easy bunker shot with a pitching wedge.
“I got a little lucky with a 18-footer that fell in the middle.”
Donald was satisfied with his course management that set up a steady level-par start.
“Majors always demand full concentration and it’s easy to lapse and you have to focus pretty hard,” Donald said.
“You have to think through every shot around here.The rough is a bit shorter but whenever I missed a shot I missed in the right place.
“It’s a good solid start, something to build on. It’s encouraging to shoot level par when not playing your best.”
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