South Africa’s Retief Goosen sits proudly at the top of the leaderboard at the end of weather interrupted first round of the US Open at Southern Hills GC in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Goosen, 32, who was born in Pietersburg, South Africa but now lives for most of the year in London, goes into the second round a single shot ahead of veteran three-time US Open champion, Hale Irwin, and Canada’s Mike Weir after registering a magnificent four under par 66 in testing conditions that saw world’s No 1, Tiger Woods, slump to a disappointing four over par 74
America’s J. J. Lewis, a former club pro from Horseshoe Bay, Texas, is alone in fourth place after a two under par 68 with Americans Loren Roberts, Stewart Cink, Chris Dimarco and Japan’s Toshimitsu Izawa all in a tie for fifth place after registering 69s.
Goosen, who has won four times on the European Tour and who finished tied for 12th place behind Woods at last year’s US Open at Pebble Beach, was standing at a three under par through seven holes when competitors were forced to leave the course when a storm struck at 3.39 pm local time on Thursday. However, he started where he left off the following morning when he birdied the 225 yard par-3 8th, the 374 yard par-4 9th and the 534 yard 13th before dropping two shots late in his round on the 16th and 17th holes.
“It was a solid round of golf,” he said. “Sure, it was disappointing to drop two shots so late on but there’s no doubt I would have taken a 66 before I started.”
The South African is one of a number of European Tour stars to have produced excellent starts during the first round over a 6,973-yard Southern Hills course that is renowned for its degree of difficulty.
Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, the current No. 1 on the European Tour’s Volvo Order of Merit, fellow-countryman Jose Coceres and Spain’s Sergio Garcia, winner of the recent MasterCard Colonial tournament on the US PGA Tour all shared 10th place after opening with level par 70s and Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie and Ernie Els are also handily-placed in a tie for 21st place on one over par 71.
Swedes, Jarmo Sandelin and Gabriel Hjertstedt, recorded two over par 72s, as did Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn and former Open champion, Paul Lawrie and Sweden’s Jesper Parnevik all returned 73s.
Further down the leaderboard, Gary Orr, Eduardo Romero, Vijay Singh, Darren Clarke and Mathias Gronberg finished the opening round in a share of 64th place after four over par 74s and England’s Lee Westwood was a further shot further back on 75, one better than Pierre Fulke, Nick Faldo and Peter Lonard.
Bringing up the rear, as far as the European Tour contingent is concerned, Jose Marie Olazabal, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Michael Campbell all stuttered to seven over par 77s, putting them in a share of 123rd place and leaving them with a lot to do to make the cut when the second round finishes mid-morning local time tomorrow.
Welshman, Philip Price, winner of this year’s Algarve Portuguese Open, withdrew after 14 holes of his opening round yesterday suffering from an unspecified medical problem believed to be a stomach bug. He was seven over par at the time.
Tiger Woods goes into the second round eight shots off the pace after registering a four over par 74, his highest score of the season on this year’s US PGA Tour. Prior to that he had been a cumulative 131 under par for the season, having recorded 33 under par scores in the 40 rounds he had played before arriving in Tulsa.
Woods, who came to Southern Hills chasing his fifth successive Major win, and his six win in seven starts, including the Deutsche Bank SAP Open TPC of Europe, uncharacteristically hit only eight out of 18 greens in regulation.