Pebble Proves Tough for the Pros

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Phil Mickelson's love for miraculous shotmaking cost him strokes in the first round of the U.S. Open on Thursday, but the four-time major champion can still win at Pebble Beach.

    Low scores were hard to come by at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Thursday.  They were even more difficult to maintain, on a sunny, windy day that was drying out the course and making things difficult for the players.

    Phil Mickelson is off to his worst start at the U.S. Open in 13 years.
         
    Mickelson failed to make a single birdie at Pebble Beach on Thursday and twice had to take drops after hitting toward or in the Pacific Ocean. When his last chance turned away at the cup, he had a 4-over 75 and was at least five shots out of the lead.

    It was his highest opening round since a 75 at Congressional in the 1997 U.S. Open.

    Pebble Beach Security

    [BAY] Pebble Beach Security
    Some 100 law enforcement officers protect the superbowl of golf.

    Mickelson holds the U.S. Open record with five second-place finishes, including last year at Bethpage Black. It was the first round in three years without a birdie. Mickelson said his putting was "horrific."

    On the other side of the game coin is Morgan Hoffman who raised his arms in celebration after the putt dropped and threw his ball into the Pacific Ocean with a grin on his face.

    Saratoga Kid Storms Pebble

    [BAY] Saratoga Kid Storms Pebble
    Saratoga's Joseph Bramlett took his diploma from Stanford on Sunday and then his clubs to Pebble Beach the very next day for the U.S. Open.

    The perfect reaction to making a quadruple bogey nine.

    Hoffman, who just completed his sophomore season at Oklahoma State, found himself near the top of the U.S. Open leaderboard in Thursday's first round. He was at 2-under after making a birdie on the 15th.

    But Hoffman bogeyed the difficult 17th and found himself behind a tree after his tee shot on the 18th.

    That's when the fun began.

    Hoffman's second shot ricocheted off the tree and into Stillwater Cove. His next shot he hooked into the water and he left two in the bunker before making a long putt to end his memorable round.

    As for Tiger Woods-- he made eight straight pars, then closed the front nine with a bogey to make the turn at 1-over par in the first round of the U.S. Open.
         
    The way things are going Thursday, that's still well in contention.

    Woods left a couple of good birdie opportunities on the table, then missed a tricky 6-foot putt to save a par on No. 9. He reached the halfway point of the round two shots behind clubhouse leaders Mike Weir, K.J. Choi, Ian Poulter and Rafael Cabrera-Bello.

    Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe made the turn at 3 under, one shot ahead of Heath Slocum.