Notebook: 15th hole eats up Garcia; none of local and sectional qualifiers make cut at US Open

  • Article by: DOUG FERGUSON , AP Golf Writer
  • Updated: June 15, 2013 - 10:05 PM

ARDMORE, Pa. — If only Sergio Garcia could have a mulligan — or four of them — on the 15th hole, he might be in reasonable shape at the U.S. Open.

The par 4 got the best of the Spaniard in the worst way Saturday. He hit three straight shots out-of-bounds and wound up making a 10. He was 6-over on that one hole and still managed a 75. In the opening round, Garcia hit his tee shot out-of-bounds on the 15th and wound up with an 8.

He is 10-over on the 15th hole, and 1-over on the rest of them at Merion.

"Funny enough, when I made an 8 on Thursday I hit a lot of bad shots," Garcia said. "Funny enough, I only hit one bad shot today and I made 10. My first shot was into the wind and it went out of bounds. My second one, I thought it was even better and it went out of bounds by 5 inches. And then the third one wasn't great. And after that, I took a chance and the round came out nicely."

Add them all up and Garcia was at 11-over 221 going into the final round.

"A 10 is just a 10, nothing more than that," Garcia said.

He wasn't the only guy who suffered on Saturday. Kyle Stanley took a 10 on the 14th hole. Robert Karlsson had a tournament-worst 86. Stanley and Shawn Stefani checked in with an 85, while Kevin Sutherland had an 84 and Simon Khan an 82.

Garcia is one round away from making it through this U.S. Open without too many incidents outside the ropes. Asked if he was prepared for a few fans to heckle him over the "fried chicken" remark he made about Tiger Woods, Garcia conceded it was possible.

"Like I said on the first day, for the most part they've been very good," Garcia said. "Obviously there's a little group that are trying to be funny and stand out. And they shout a little bit louder than the rest. But the only thing I have to say is they're not very — how do you say it — they're not very creative."

___

IN GOOD COMPANY: Phil Mickelson doesn't have a driver in the bag this week so he can carry an extra wedge.

Ian Poulter has opted to go without his 7-iron.

Poulter said on Twitter that he didn't think he needed a 7-iron for Merion. He said he has had only three yardages where a 7-iron could have been used, and instead he played a soft cut with a 6-iron. It has worked well. He was tied for 11th going into the last round, despite losing four shots over the last four holes Saturday for a 73.

Besides, he's not the only player to go without a 7-iron.

Ben Hogan didn't have one in his bag when he won the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion. Asked why he didn't have one, Hogan dryly replied, "There isn't a 7-iron shot at Merion."

___

THE LONG ROAD TO A SHORT WEEK: Those who had the shortest week at the U.S. Open took the longest road to even get to Merion.

For the first time since at least 1997, none of the 20 players who endured 18 holes of local qualifying and 36 holes of sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open made the cut.

That doesn't mean the experience was a total waste of time.

Take 18-year-old Gavin Hall, who birdied his last four holes to make it through sectional qualifying in New York. Hall went to bed Thursday night with his name on the leaderboard because he was 1 under when the opening round was suspended. He ran off a string of bogeys Friday morning, though he also holed out from the eighth fairway for an eagle to open with a 74.

The second round was tougher — a 40 on the front nine, and then a triple bogey on the 10th hole, the shortest par 4 at Merion. He shot 77, but that included back-to-back birdies on Nos. 15 and 16, and an experience he wouldn't trade.

"That's a special place, a special tournament to play in, and for me to play in this at such a young age is a great learning experience, and it's just a great tournament to kick off the summer," said Hall, who clearly had a great time despite missing the cut.

"I've gotten exposed to a lot of things and I have a lot to work on," he said. "But I still feel like if I clean up some things in my game, I belong out here."

Harold Varner III made it through local qualifying, and he was an alternate from sectional qualifying to play in his first U.S. Open. He went 76-79, so it was never really close when it came to staying for the weekend.

Varner was one of two players who competed in The First Tee event at Pebble Beach — Scott Langley was the other — but the 22-year-old who played at East Carolina was more disappointed with his results.

The biggest surprise was the size of the crowd.

"When I played in the Wal-Mart First Tee, there was a lot of people, and then I played in the one Web.com in Charlotte, seeing that many people," Varner said. "But this week was obviously like a circus. It was unbelievable."

___

WEIBRING'S STRUGGLES: Matt Weibring made the cut in his first U.S. Open, though it becomes an even greater achievement considering that Merion was only his second form of competition in the last two months.

Weibring, a Web.com Tour player and the son of former PGA Tour player D.A. Weibring, has been coping with Bell's palsy, a form of facial paralysis.

"I was happy just to be here, just to be back playing," he said. "And I hung in there, and I did what I had to do. It's hard out there."

Weibring, who qualified out of Dallas, had to return Saturday morning to complete his round and slipped over the cut line with two holes to play. But he made a birdie on the par-3 ninth hole, hung on for par and a 73 and earned two more days at Merion.

The 33-year-old Weibring said he couldn't even practice the last two months.

"Your face gets paralyzed so you can't close or blink your eye or anything," he said. "It's hard being outside because if the wind blows, you feel disoriented. I practiced a couple of weeks leading up to the qualifier. Sometimes you go out after you've been sick and shoot good, and I tied for medalist, and here I am. So I'm excited."

He shot 76 on Saturday and was tied for 60th.

___

BIG NAMES MISS THE CUT: Former Masters champion Zach Johnson was among 12 major champions who failed to make the cut, and he wasn't happy — not about his game, not about the way Merion was set up, and certainly not with the USGA.

"I would describe the whole golf course as manipulated," Johnson said after rounds of 74-77, his first weekend off at a U.S. Open since 2009 at Bethpage Black. "It just enhances my disdain for the USGA and how it manipulates golf courses."

As another example of how predicting winners is mostly guesswork in golf, three of the players who some thought would contend at Merion were Johnson, Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk. All of them missed the cut by at least three shots. For McDowell, it was his second straight cut in a major — in a year when he already has won twice.

Furyk had his worst U.S. Open, and it hurt coming in his home state.

The most painful cut belonged to Stewart Cink, who played his last four holes in 4 over — including a double bogey at No. 18 — to miss by two shots.

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