Editor’s note: I’m springing out of my armchair to spend the week at Congressional Country Club covering the 2011 U.S. Open. Share your U.S. Open thoughts: Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE 10TH IS A FRIGHTENING hole on Congressional’s Blue Course, a 218-yard par 3 that crosses a small lake. Few would choose to start their U.S. Open here, but many have no choice. For Y.E. Yang, the clubhouse leader after a 3-under 68, it was the perfect start. While others have nervously dunked their golf balls in the water (Phil Mickelson, for one), Yang smacked a 5-iron hybrid and watched it fly toward the green.
“It was a very straight, honest hit, and it landed quite well,” Yang said. The 2009 PGA Championship winner sank the putt for a birdie and was off to a round during which he birdied all four par 3s, a first in his career.
Carding five birdies and two bogeys, Yang put together nines of 3-under 33 and even-par 35 for his 68. The softer conditions resulting from overcast skies and cooler-than-normal temperatures helped the cause. It won’t get any easier, he said.
Yang believes his experience as a major winner can help him the rest of the way. “I know the feeling, and I know that it’s a little more of everything in a major than it is in other tournaments, so it’s easier for me to cope with that kind of pressure or expectations. It definitely has some kind of psychological advantage.”
Louis Oosthuizen and Ryan Palmer finished with 2-under 69s. A half-dozen players have completed play at 1-under 70, including defending champion Graeme McDowell, Stewart Cink and Davis Love III.
−The Armchair Golfer
2011 U.S. Open: ‘Big Blue’ Ready to Challenge Field of 156
2011 U.S. Open TV Schedule and Tournament Notes
2011 U.S. Open: Play the Groupings Name Game
2011 U.S. Open: A 16-Year-Old Player and Other Notes