U.S. Open notes: Viktor Hovland’s performance was no amateur hour
By Sam Farmer and Tod Leonard
Jun 17, 2019 | 12:55 AM
|Reporting from pebble beach
Oklahoma State’s Viktor Hovland set a new 72-hole scoring record for an amateur in the U.S. Open, shooting a four-under 67 on Sunday capped with a birdie on the 18th hole.
Hovland finished the tournament with a four-under 280, breaking the mark of 282 set by the legendary Jack Nicklaus in the 1960 Open at Cherry Hills Country Club in Englewood, Colo.
“It’s obviously cool to perform such a thing,” said Hovland, who is the reigning Norwegian national amateur champion. “And I hope that this will feed or I can feed off of this going into my professional career and do more things like this and be in contention of winning tournaments.”
Hovland has played in five pro tournaments this year, including the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where he missed the cut with scores of 73-72. He made the cut in the Masters and was the low amateur there, tying for 32nd.
Golf wasn’t Gary Woodland’s favorite sport as a kid. He was an outstanding basketball and baseball player. But friends say he showed flashes on the course that indicated he was a cut above — and in fact tremendously gifted — even before he turned all his attention to golf.
“We played intermittently, but every year we’d take a trip and play 36 holes in one day, two courses, and that’s when you found out how special he was,” said Jordan Canfield, Woodland’s boyhood friend from Topeka, Kan.
“When he’s 15 years old and he can hit a 280-yard two-iron that never got higher than your head. We were both scratch golfers at the time, and I can remember thinking, ‘I could practice that shot for a year and never hit it.’ And he was 15 years old. You just don’t hit a 280-yard two-iron that low off the ground. My friends and I just looked at each other. We knew he was pretty special even then.”
Mickelson out of contention
On his 49th birthday, Phil Mickelson, the five-time major winner, shot one-over 72 ito finish the Open at four over. In winning the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in February for the fifth time, Mickelson shot 19 under in two rounds at Pebble Beach and one each at Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club.
Mickelson opened the week with a one-over 72, battled back with a 69 on Friday, but struggled to a 75 in the third round that was capped by a triple-bogey eight at 18.
The San Diegan now is winless in 28 U.S. Opens played and hasn’t seriously contended since leading the 2013 tournament heading into the final round at Merion. His next opportunity to complete the career Grand Slam comes at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., where Mickelson blew his lead on the 72nd hole to lose the 2006 U.S. Open.
“It’s not like I’m going to stop trying,” he said. “I enjoy the challenge. But I thought this was a really good chance for me. I didn’t putt my best, I didn’t chip my best. I actually played OK from tee to green.”
Memories of 2000
Even though he wasn’t on the leaderboard Sunday, Tiger Woods found himself reminiscing about his U.S. Open win at Pebble Beach, a historic victory by a record 15 strokes that his dying father, Earl, was too sick to attend.
“There’s not a day that I don't think about my dad,” Woods said. “On a day like today, when I won this championship, my dad wasn't able to travel. His cancer was spreading, and he wasn’t able to make it up here. Even though I had a big lead playing Sunday, he couldn’t fly. Going home that night was awfully special to share with him.”