Keep an Eye on Rickie

 

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After the first day of US Open competition at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in the Hamptons, plenty of praise should be heaped on old guys. Steve Stricker (51) and Jim Furyk (48) both shot 3-over 73 on a windy day, tying with 16 others in 19th place, when the average score was 76.48; this is the highest first-round US Open score in over 30 years. (Again, par is 70.) Only four players were under par at 69, including world #1 Dustin Johnson, and only one player was at even par, Jason Dufner. Former #1 Tiger Woods had a bad day, starting with a triple-bogie 7 on the first hole, and wound up with a 78, along with geezer Ernie Els, winner in ’94 and ’97. Semi-geezer and 6-time runner-up Phil Mickelson was at 77.

But my eye is on the holder of the cleanest scorecard, Rickie Fowler, an anti-geezer at 29 years of age. When we talk about a “clean scorecard” we mean that there are lots of pars, and few deviations. Sure, while a coveted card carries lots of birdies and eagles, that rarely happens without dirty marks such as bogies and double-bogies creeping in. By far most cards have a mix of below-par scores and above-par scores. Fowler had the cleanest card today by far, scoring 16 pars, a bogie and (gulp) a double-bogey. That means that on only two holes were there over-par blips: a bogey on #2, and a double on #14 — amazing consistency. He hit 11 of 14 fairways, and 12 of 18 greens in regulation. When he missed a green he recovered well with chipping and accurate sand shots; clearly his putting helped him to churn out pars. He has 8 wins, but no majors; he’s come in second at majors 3 times. I’d keep an eye on him.

 

 

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