PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — No matter how tough a U.S. Open course looks, good scores are available to someone.
Sometimes, it might not be a player anyone expects. The last time the U.S. Open was at Pinehurst No. 5, Olin Browne opened with a 67. This was inspiring because Browne nearly withdrew after one round of qualifying, stuck it out to set an example for his son, and shot 59 to earn his ticket to the U.S. Open. He hung in there, playing in the second-to-last group in the final round until he shot 80 on Sunday.
For so many others, the crash comes much sooner.
Jay Don Blake opened with a 66 at Olympia Fields in 2003, and followed that with a 77. Branden Grace shot 70 at Merion last year and was three shots out of the lead, only to post an 83 on Friday and he was on his way home. Stewart Cink and Steve Lowery each shot 70 at Bethpage Black in 2002, just three shots behind Tiger Woods. Both shot 82 the next day.
The most common phrase in golf is that you can't win a tournament in the opening round, but you can lose it.
Consider five players who lost the U.S. Open in the second round:
5. TOM WEISKOPF
Weiskopf, who would go on to win the British Open in 1973, made the cut the first five times he played in the U.S. Open. And he got off to a solid start at Merion in 1971, opening with a 70 and was three shots out of the lead.
He followed with an 83 on Friday and missed the cut.
4. TOM BYRUM
Byrum's only PGA Tour victory came in the 1989 Kemper Open. He opened with a 68 at Hazeltine in the 1991 U.S. Open, leaving him only one shot out of the lead behind Nolan Henke and Payne Stewart, the eventual winner.
On Friday, Byrum soared to an 80 and missed the cut.
3. JUSTIN HICKS
Hicks was No. 722 in the world ranking and playing on the Nationwide Tour when he qualified for the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. Oddly enough, a Justin Hicks played at Torrey in the Buick Invitational earlier that year, only he was a club pro from San Diego.