Locals have favorable first rounds at U.S. Open 

click to enlarge Nick Watney hits from a sand trap near the seventh green at the Olympic Club. - MATT SULLIVAN/REUTERS
  • Matt Sullivan/Reuters
  • Nick Watney hits from a sand trap near the seventh green at the Olympic Club.

What some have called the toughest starting stretch of holes in US Open history played a huge part in both of the top local qualifiers' opening rounds – one survived and the other was eaten up.

Michael Allen, an Olympic Club member, San Mateo native and also the oldest player in The Open at 53, buoyed a 1-over round of 71 by parring the first five holes, before bogeying the sixth, which played as the third-toughest hole in the first round.

James Hahn, a San Bruno resident who grew up in Alameda, pulled up to the first tee at 1-under after starting on the 10th hole.

After a birdie on the par-4 second hole gave him second place all alone at 2-under, Hahn bogeyed the third and double bogeyed the fifth and sixth holes consecutively.

It was the nearly 500-yard par-4 fifth, however, that will stand out to those who were following the 30-year-old who played collegiately at Cal.

Hahn began the fifth with a drive into the trees in the right-hand-side rough, sent an ill-advised shot across the fairway and onto the 12th hole, got relief from behind a grandstand, hit a 60-yard shot onto the fringe and three putted.

"I caught a really good break on five and three putt from the fringe, and then had a good break on six – had a great lie in the rough – and then just miscalculated the second shot and had a total brain fart on the third shot," Hahn said. "I got bit in the ass."

Allen, who also started on the 10th hole, provided one of only a few exciting moments in the opening round.

On the par-four 14th, Allen eagled from the first cut of rough with an iron to put him under par for the first time.

"At that point, I just felt I really needed to hit a good shot and get a good birdie putt and then see it go in," Allen said. "I felt like maybe now I'm kind of back in the tournament."

Watney scores third double eagle in US Open history

Nick Watney's US Open was slipping away before he connected with a five iron from 190 yards out on the par-5 17th hole.

The hit the front of the green on the fly and rolled all the way into the left side of the cup to move him from three over to even par.

Watney then parred the next seven holes and finished the first round tied for second place with a 1-under 69.

"I was 3-over without doing too much bad stuff," Watney said. "But obviously the shot on 17 was something I'll always remember and I'm pleased with the round."

 

Teenager amongst leaders

Fourteen-year-old Andy Zhang has occupied plenty of attention in the days leading up to The Open, but after Zhang's 9-over 79, another teenager has taken over the spotlight.

Beau Hossler, a 17-year-old high schooler from Southern California that qualified locally June 4, shot a even-par 70 and is currently tied for 7th place.

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Jeremy Balan

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Saturday, Dec 27, 2014

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