KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson opened with a 7-over-par 79 that left him “disappointed” in his first competitive round in a month.
Simpson shot 6-over-par 42 on the front nine with a double bogey on the third hole and four bogeys in his last five holes before making the turn.
“I was rustier than I thought I’d be,” said Simpson, who took a month off for the birth of his daughter last month. “I didn’t hit a bad shot on No. 1 and make bogey. At No. 3, I thought my wedge shot (would be within) 10 feet, went over the green and made double. Just kind of rusty stuff from there.”
Simpson had three thee-putts on the back nine.
“It’s a tough way to get back into it, but I’m glad I got the first round under my belt. I’m not quite out of it,” Simpson said.
“As hard as I worked at home, I didn’t expect to come out here and struggle so much. I hit it really good today. Just stupid mistakes and couldn’t get anything going. Seemed like every time I’d make a birdie, I’d make a mistake the next hole.
“I didn’t feel nerves this morning like I thought I would. That’s a dangerous place because I felt like I was floating out here.”
The Charlotte-based players were led by Brendan de Jonge and Martin Laird, who opened with 71s. Robert Karlsson had 74 and Johnson Wagner shot 75. Pinehurst teaching pro Kelly Mitchum shot 76.
BIG JOHN: John Daly has made eight of 10 cuts on the PGA Tour this year, including a fifth-place finish at the Reno-Tahoe event last week. He’s had a solid season on the European Tour as well. Daly has no current status on the PGA Tour.
“I want to be here, playing our tour,” Daly said after an opening 68. “I want to be like everybody else in the top 50 and getting that free money from the World Golf Championships and be in all the majors and getting sponsors, big, big sponsors.
“(I) want a schedule. (I) don’t want to wait to get in tournaments here and then, hopefully, get in tournaments in Europe…It’s tough.”
• Watching Phil Mickelson Thursday was like watching Indiana Jones play golf. Mickelson gave a guided tour of where not to hit it on the Ocean Course but, because he’s Phil, managed to shoot 73.
Mickelson said he plans to change his approach for the second round and be more aggressive off the tee.
“There’s a lot of area on this course to play,” Mickelson said. “It’s a very fair, fun, good, great set-up. If you hit a good shot you will end up in a good spot. That’s not the case the last couple of majors. Here it is a very fair, playable test.”
Should be fun to watch.
• Seen posing for a photo together outside the Ocean Course clubhouse: Musician Darius Rucker, NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino and John Daly. Overheard outside the clubhouse: Daly and Rucker talking about getting together to play music together next spring.
• Charley Hoffman earned the distinction of the day’s worst start. He made a quadruple-bogey eight on the par-4 first hole, one of the easiest holes on the Ocean Course. He later tacked on a six and seven on his first nine holes, shooting 45 on his way to 81 that wasn’t terrible considering the start.
THEY SAID IT
• “The shot itself was nasty. Nasty as in nasty good.” - Tiger Woods on his third shot at the par-4 ninth hole.
• “I got in the air and that was pretty neat.” - Pinehurst teaching pro Kelly Mitchum. who hit the first shot of the championship Thursday morning.
• “I walk on the first tee and I never recognize one hole. That’s too long ago.” - Thomas Bjorn, who played the World Cup at the Ocean Course in 1997.
“It’s a nuisance. It’s hot and sweaty, but it’s been hot and sweaty the last two months on tour.” - Carl Pettersson on the conditions Thursday.
• “I’m so happy it started blowing…On the 14th tee was one of the hottest moments of my life." - Keegan Bradley.
The chance of thunderstorms jumps today to 60 percent while the wind is also forecast to gain strength, blowing 20 mph with higher gusts in the afternoon. The high temperature is expected in the upper 80s with thick humidity again. The rain chance is expected to decrease Saturday and Sunday with the wind remaining a factor.