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U.S. Open notes: Lee Westwood is seriously going after his first major

Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood tees off at No. 8 during the continuation of the first round at the U.S. Open on Friday.
(Sam Greenwood / Getty Images)

Lee Westwood joked this week that he likes to “Rolls-Royce” it at home in England with his golf now. Translated, that means that when he’s off for a week he cruises up to the course and goes to the first tee without a warmup swing.

So the stops and starts of the weather-hampered first round of the U.S. Open didn’t bother him a bit. Westwood finished his first round Friday morning with a pair of birdies to shoot three-under-par 67 at Oakmont Country Club. The 43-year-old was to start his second round early on Saturday morning.

“I don’t stiffen up or anything like that. Being the finely tuned athlete I am, you wouldn’t expect would you?” Westwood said on Friday, drawing chuckles from the gathered media.

Westwood jokes about a lot of things, but he is sternly serious about winning a major.

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His first major.

Westwood has captured 23 European Tour titles and two PGA Tour championships, but in the majors he has has nine top-three finishes, including three runners-up.

His closest call in the U.S. Open was having a putt on the 18th hole to get into the playoff with Tiger Woods and Rocco Mediate in 2008  at Torrey Pines. Westwood tied for 36th in the 2007 Open at Oakmont.

“I’ve been playing really nicely, really looking forward to coming back to Oakmont,” said Westwood, who has three top-10s in his last four starts, tying for second in the Masters. “I like the challenge. This golf course is certainly a challenge. It tests you mentally. I sort of picked up where I left off at the Masters and the last three weeks I played.

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“I felt confident out there and hit a lot of good shots,” he added. “I was shaping it both ways, which you need to do in U.S. Opens to get at a lot of the flags.”

Piercy in the hunt

After barely finishing his second round before dark, Scott Piercy said, “My feet feel like they’re on fire. My calves feel like they’re on fire. I’m excited to be done.”

His spirits were in pretty good shape. The three-time PGA Tour winner scored 68 in the morning and 70 in the afternoon to get to 2 under. Among the players who finished 36 holes, only Dustin Johnson (4 under) scored better, while Piercy was tied with Sergio Garcia.

A San Diego State alum, Piercy is in his eighth full year on tour, but has only contended in a major once – a tie for fifth in the 2013 PGA Championship.

“Putter let me down a little bit in the afternoon,” Piercy said. “But the ball striking was really pretty amazing today in the afternoon for sure.”

Piercy estimated that he missed four or five putts from inside 10 feet.

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England nail-biter

Thursday was a doubly good day for Westwood. In the morning, England’s national soccer team got a goal in the 92nd minute to beat Wales 2-1 in the European Championship.

“I’ve got to be careful here because a lot of my mom’s family are Welsh,” Westwood said. “But I will say that I should not be biting my nails with 15 minutes left, thinking, can we get a winner against Wales?”

Summerhays surprises with 65

Daniel Summerhays has been a cut-making machine on the PGA Tour this season, but he rarely shoots low. That’s what made his second round so surprising. The 32-year-old shot five under on the back nine to notch the week’s best score, a five-under 65, to get to one under overall for the tournament.

He was only two shots off Johnny Miller’s course and U.S. Open record of 63. 

Summerhays is the nephew of former PGA Tour player Bruce Summerhays. The Utah native is a journeyman on tour, having notched his only pro victory in the Web.com Tour’s 2007 Nationwide Children’s Championship.

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This season on the PGA Tour, Summerhays has played 18 times, making all but three cuts, with a top finish of a tie for 13th.

Notable

Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson was seven over through 16 holes of the second round. He’d made only four birdies in 34 holes. … UCLA alum Kevin Chappell shot a 76 in the first round that included a double-bogey and triple-bogey.

tod.leonard@sduniontribune.com

 


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