Despite some grumblings that Chambers Bay wasn’t in a condition befitting a U.S. Open, several players are making big moves up the leaderboard in the opening round.
Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson are in the clubhouse at 5-under par, and Ben Martin is 5-under through 11 holes at Chambers Bay. Stenson and Johnson shot 65, good enough for a one-stroke lead over Patrick Reed and amateur Brian Campbell at the time of this writing.
Matt Kuchar and Jason Day are also finding success at Chambers Bay at 3-under par. Tiger Woods, who is still seeking his 15th major win, is struggling early at 4-over par through nine.
After recording birdies on three of the last four holes, Stenson was pleased but acknowledged the long road ahead that Chambers Bay presents.
“One day out of four done, and we’re right there with where we want to be. It’s still a long journey until Sunday afternoon.”
Chambers Bay received criticism from a number of players in the weeks leading up to the tournament. The course, which is set up as a links-style course with huge bunkers, long and wide fairways, and complicated greens. With large, drastic drop-offs and steep, difficult uphill climbs, many players feel Chambers Bay is unfair, and the USGA could set it up in such a way that would make playing it nearly impossible. Additionally, in a unique twist, the 1st and 18th holes will play as either a par-4 or par-5 — and no one will know until they arrive in the morning what they will be.
USA Today reported that players and caddies were referring to Chambers Bay as “atrocious, appalling, brutal, idiotic, ridiculous, and embarrassing.”
But for all the negativity Chambers Bay was receiving before the tournament, a slew of players are having success finding birdies. In fact, at the time of this writing, 35 players were under par. Phil Mickelson, who has won every major except the U.S. Open, found Chambers Bay to be a good challenge, but not impossible.
“I thought there was nothing hokey or crazy with any pin positions or how it played. I thought it was difficult. I think the biggest challenge is that the green speeds are different from green to green. That’s going to wreak havoc on our touch.”
Johnson earned his share of the lead after making a bogey on the final hole at Chambers Bay after making three birdies over four holes before that. Despite ending on a bogey, he felt good about his day and his chances.
“I really felt like I swung it well and hit a lot of quality iron shots. So the confidence is definitely there. I feel really good about where I’m at going into tomorrow.”
[Image via Fox News]