Media Worried about the Lack of Stars
Doom and gloom greeted the media coverage going into the weekend for the U.S. Open. With golf already struggling with television ratings, the lack of star power remaining in the field has many predicting a ratings disaster for FOX Sports and the USGA. With six of the top ten players, including the top three in the world, going home on Friday it's hard not to share their fears. True golf fans will show up, but, the casual fans may choose to do something else with their weekend when faced with a leaderboard full of relative strangers. We'll have to wait and see what the ratings are, but, expect to see a pile of articles once again asking if golf can survive without Tiger Woods. Spoiler: Yes, it can.
Erin Hills Gets an Inch of Rain
Just as Erin Hills was starting to dry out and show its teeth an additional inch of rain fell on the course overnight on Friday. Early predictions were for more low scores. Oosthuizen went out early and proved the predictions correct posting a 32 for his first 9-holes. Will we get more fireworks this afternoon as the leaders begin play?
Twitter Not Loving Fox Sports
As Fox Sports continues to figure out how to bring golf to the fans, Twitter was more than willing to provide some feedback on how they were doing. Early thoughts seemed obsessed with the noise coming from the planes circling the event:
They weren't wrong. Even the commentators finally had to admit the noise was a problem. However, it wasn't all bad news for Fox:
This is Fox Sports' third year of covering the U.S. Open. The current contract with the USGA continues through 2026. Despite reports that Fox is losing money and the relationship with the USGA on shaky ground, this deal is likely to continue for some time. I'm sure we all hope the pace of improvement continues.
Spieth Fails to Find Momentum
Usually his strength, Spieth wasn't able to get anything going on the greens again today. One of his own toughest critics, Spieth was often heard on the Fox coverage shaming himself for shots that ended up being very respectable. He's just not playing with any inner confidence at the moment. A double-bogey at the last had Spieth finishing with a 76 on the day to stand at 4-over for the tournament. Expect many conversations around Spieth and his putting as he finishes out his U.S. Open and prepares for Royal Birkdale next month.
Xander Schauffele is going to hear this one for a while
Justin Thomas and his pants are on fire!
Thomas goes out in 31 to tie the lead at the U.S. Open.
Erin Hills is being dominated
They made it long. They made the greens fast and full of slope. They grew in the fescue to a ridiculous height. They just forgot to make the course narrow. These guys are eating this place up and Mr. Jenkins isn't happy about it.
Should we hear more about equipment?
A quick random thought as we wait for the play to pick back up. Much is made about what clubs the top players use but we rarely hear any details about equipment during the broadcasts. Keen fans can find that information by looking around the Internet but what about the casual fan? Even though it might end up sounding like an infomercial at times, would you be interested in getting more details about what clubs and specs the players are using out there?
Reed fires Erin Hill's fourth 65
Ryder Cup legend Patrick Reed was a lip-out on 18 away from a new U.S. Open record. Reed posted yet another 65 and continued to prove the point that Erin Hills isn't quite the test we normally see for the Open. 8 birdies combined with 1 bogey has Reed well positioned to challenge for his first major victory tomorrow.
Sergio Garcia stuck in neutral
After putting together a good Thursday and Friday that saw him just 4-shots off of the lead, Garcia hasn't been able to get anything going through his first 14 holes. 2 bogies and 1 birdie have him quickly fading from the discussion. We'll see if he can get a little momentum over his final 4 holes today but there are too many players between him and the top this week to challenge.
Thomas makes history
Justin Thomas eagled the par-5 18th hole today to break Johnny Miller's long-held record for the lowest score to par in U.S. Open history. Thomas posted an amazing 9-under par 63 at vulnerable Erin Hills. Miller famously shot 63 in the final round to win the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont. However, Oakmont was playing to a par-71 that day. While Thomas tied his score, he was one shot better to par. Congratulations Justin Thomas!
Too easy or great golf?
As Erin Hills continues to give up birdies and eagles many are complaining:
Tommy Fleetwood proved that the course will still bite you. It took an amazing pitch just to save bogey after putting completely across and then down the green on the last today. There is little doubt that Erin Hills simply isn't playing as tough as the USGA believed it would. If there is a next time for Erin Hills, I would anticipate seeing much narrower fairways.
Your 54-hole U.S. Open Leader Board
- -12 Harman
- -11 Thomas
- -11 Koepka
- -11 Fleetwood
- -10 Fowler
- -9 Kim
- -8 Reed
- -8 Henley
- -8 Hoffman
Thanks for hanging out today! We'll see you again tomorrow for the final round of the U.S. Open from Erin Hills.