Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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Pinehurst, N.C. _ Martin Kaymer has reached 10-under par with a few holes left in his second round at the U.S. Open.
The last player to reach double-digits under par before the weekend at a U.S. Open? Rory McIlroy, when he set a record of 16-under when winning the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.
The last player before McIlroy to do it? Well, no one.
Kaymer reached 10-under on his 32nd hole of the U.S. Open. The only player ever to reach 10-under quicker was, again, McIlroy at Congressional.
It rained at Pinehurst on Thursday night, and that has led to more-receptive greens. Kaymer is hitting the ball so well he has had no trouble holding greens, and when he made a bad swing on the par-3 6th, he easily got up and down from the bunker.
He’s threatening to make this a one-man tournament.
Former Gopher Donald Constable is two-over today after shooting an 81 in his first round. (I incorrectly called it an 82 earlier.)
Fellow former Gopher Clayton Rask tees off in about two hours.
I’ll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 from Pinehurst.
Pinehurst, N.C. _ Martin Kaymer has taken a four-shot lead by dropping to minus-8 after his first seven holes of round 2 at the U.S. Open, and 49-year-old Fran Quinn is in second and minus-4.
Enough about them. Let's talk about the Minnesotans in the field.
Donald Constable is one over after three holes, and Clayton Rask is due to tee off at 1:42 (Central Time.)
Rask is currently tied for 60th. Constable is fighting to stay off the bottom of the leaderboard.
The former Gophers are both very likeable guys, and both tried to take positives from their first rounds. Rask birdied the first and the 18th, closing with a fist pump, before heading to the practice range.
Constable triple-bogeyed his 18th hole (the first, because he teed off on No. 10), but was gracious enough to make the long trek to the interview area.
That's no small thing, after shooting an 82 at a major. He could have declined interviews, and nobody would have blamed him. (I certainly wouldn't have.) He was frustrated, and spoke of how lonely the golf course can be when you're struggling.
But he closed by saying that he's ``25 and playing in the U.S. Open. That's not a bad gig.''
I'll be following Rask and Constable today, and will have lots of coverage of the Open in the paper and on startribune.com through the weekend.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 today from Pinehurst, and will co-host Sunday Sports Talk on 1500ESPN at 10 a.m. on Sunday.
Pinehurst, N.C. _ Walked a few holes with former Gopher Clayton Rask. He made birdies on Nos. 1 and 4, then bogeyed 5 with a three-putt, and now stands at minus-1 as he plays the eighth. He's tied for fourth.
Pictures of him as a Gopher reveal a rather stocky guy. He looks like a pro athlete now, and he's near the tournament leaders (tied for third at the moment) with a driving average of 320 yards.
Fellow former Gopher Donald Constable tees off at 1:31.
You can follow Rask's round here.
My first impression of Pinehurst No. 2 during the practice rounds? I kept waiting to be impressed.
While I like the fact that the organizers ripped up the thick rough, revealing sand and wiregrass, the course itself just is not living up to its reputation.
Now, I'm spoiled. Most of the majors I've covered have been at Augusta National. I covered the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, and I've visited Pebble Beach. These are places of breathtaking natural beauty.
Pinehurst No. 2 is revered by the golf establishment, but the emporer has no clothes.
With no significant water on the course, it's just a big, hot sandbox with crowned greens.
Usually, I'm especially spoiled when I cover majors. Usually, I have inside-the-ropes access, which allows me to follow players closely.
Here, I'm outside the ropes (I'm guessing the USGA is punishing my paper for not having covered the Open for a while), which means I'm getting the true fan experience.
And the true fan experience here stinks, especially on the front nine.
Most courses have perches that allow you to watch more than one hole at a time. Here, the course is flat and well-treed, so you can really only watch one shot at a time.
And the setup of the course means walking the course is like driving in St. Paul - usually you're going the wrong way, but don't worry, you'll hit a dead-end soon.
There are 20 public courses in Minnesota I'd rather play or walk than Pinehurst, including Hazeltine National and all of the resort courses up North. And I haven't even played all of the good courses in our state.
If PInehurst is worthy of a major championship, then Minnesota should get to host the Open every other year.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15.
Pinehurst, N.C. _
My first very-important thought from the U.S. Open:
Yeah, you're stuck with Chris Berman on your TV. But I'm stuck with Chris Berman on a massive screen in the US Open media tent. You win.
First impression of the course: It was blazing hot the last few days. Today, there is cloud cover and it's relatively cool, which could save the course from becoming fast and borderline unplayable.
The scores are reflecting that. Brandt Snedeker leads at -3, with Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, David Toms and Phil Mickelson at -2.
It's already a great leaderboard.
Minnesota native Clayton Rask teed off at 7:51, and I'll be updating his scoring throughout the day. Fellow former Gopher Donald Constable tees off at 1:31.
Ricky Fowler is wearing Payne Stewart-style pulled-up pants with checked socks.
Back with more throughout the day.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15ish from Pinehurst.
Pinehurst, N.C. _
Just came off the course. Wanted to walk 18. Made it through 1 1/2 before heavy winds forced the course to be shut down.
On to the picks...
The only thing dumber than sportswriters picking who's going to win a game is sportswriters picking who's going to win a golf tournament. We don't know. We really don't. If we knew who was going to win, we'd live in Vegas. Or Monte Carlo.
I'm not going to pretend I have any idea who will win this week at Pinehurst. I wouldn't have picked Michael Campbell in the last U.S. Open held here. I wouldn't have picked Payne Stewart in 1999.
But there are types of golfers who have a better chance than others of winning a U.S. Open on a course like this. Here are some of the players I like to at least contend this week, in no particular order:
1. Rory McIlroy sounded well-prepared and eager today. He hits it long, hits it high, has a chance to stop the ball on fast greens, and is capable of having a hot putting week. What will be tested is his short-game touch on a course that will require a lot of uphill chips from tight lies. He practiced at PInehurst last week and visited with Jack NIcklaus about major mindsets. If McIlroy can avoid his now-typical early-round blowup, he could win.
2. Jordan Spieth finished second at The Masters, and his profile may fit the U.S. Open even more than The Masters. He's not a long hitter, but he can shape and control his iron shots and has a great short game. He handles pressure well and wants to be great. He might be my favorite to win this week.
3. Matt Kuchar isn't particularly long, but he's a grinder who hits it straight and should win a major somewhere, someday. If the course is brutally tough, Kuchar could be the kind of guy to play it safe, make a million pars, and watch everyone else fall off.
4. Sergio Garcia. No, I don't really expect him to win, but if this becomes a chipping contest requiring creativity, it will play into Garcia's deft hands.
5. Phil Mickelson. There is no good reason to pick him based on the way he's playing now, but if he plays well in the first round while adapting to his new putter grip, he could ride a wave of emotion through Sunday afternoon.
6. Luke Donald. Another guy I don't expect to win who is well-suited for the course and its demands.
7. Steve Stricker. The Wisconsinite is a great putter. That alone could give him a chance.
8. Adam Scott. Not because this is necessarily a great course for him, but because he's a wonderful player in his prime.
9. Graeme McDowell. McIlroy called this course ``linksy,'' meaning like the links courses he plays back home in Northern Ireland. McDowell, another Irishman, has the guts and game to make a run at another major.
10. Jim Furyk. He has a quintessential U.S. Open game.
11. Jason Day. He's actually one of my favorites this week. Hits it long and high and has a great short game. He's in my top three, with Spieth and McIlroy.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 and on 1500ESPN at 12:15 tomorrow and Friday from Pinehurst.
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