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Tuesday at the U.S. Open: Bubba Watson tests his strength

Scott Levin's picture

Tuesday marked the second day of practice rounds at the U.S. Open Golf Championship, and several players took advantage of the comfortable weather to fine tune their games.

The 112th U.S. Open tees off this weekend from The Olympic Club in San Francisco. The historic club has been home to four previous Open Championships, the last of which was in 1998, when Lee Janzen overtook the late Payne Stewart on Sunday to win the major.

With most golfers hitting the course Tuesday for their second practice round, there was plenty to take in for the thousands of spectators who showed up to catch a glimpse. Here are some of the story lines from practice day No. 2.

Bubba Watson takes on No. 16

Few holes will present as daunting a challenge this weekend as The Olympic Club's No. 16. The 670-yard, par 5 is easily the course's longest, stretching 148 yards further than the following hole, No. 17. So with Tuesday a day of practice, who better to go toe-to-toe with the beastly hole than Bubba Watson, the PGA Tour leader in driving distance? With his tee shot landing in the fairway and still about 300 yards to go, Watson first tried his hybrid, falling short of the green. Unwilling to accept this failure, Watson dropped another ball, whipped out his pink driver and blasted it straight off the fairway. Still short. Safe to say, if Watson can't reach the green with two cracks of his driver, the hole is unlikely to produce any eagles this weekend.

Tiger Woods pairs with a name from the past

As he has been known to do, Tiger Woods was the first to tee off on Tuesday, taking the first slot at 7 a.m. And those arriving early were able to sneak an early view of the three-time U.S. Open champion. But Woods certainly didn't steal all of the spotlight, as some of that was reserved for his Tuesday playing partner. Casey Martin, the golfer who made waves some years ago for requesting a golf cart during tournaments to combat a circulation disorder, teed off next to Woods. The current golf coach at the University of Oregon, Martin qualified for the Open in a sectional tournament. And he was clearly in good spirits Tuesday as he interacted with fans while driving around the course.

More notes from Tuesday

  • Watson's show of strength was one thing to watch from his group. Another was his Tuesday playing partner, 14-year-old Andy Zhang. Zhang, chosen as an alternate to replace Paul Casey, will become the youngest player in U.S. Open history when he tees off Thursday.
  • Aside from the occasional gust of wind, golfers couldn't have asked for better weather Tuesday. And the good fortune is expected to continue through the weekend. Temperatures should fluctuate from the high 60s to the low 80s with the typical San Francisco breeze keeping golfers cool.
  • Rory McIlroy made sure to complete his practice round by the early afternoon. Last year's champion had a date at AT&T Park where he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the San Francisco Giants-Houston Astros game. As part of Irish Heritage Night at the park, fans were given a McIlroy bobblehead doll.
  • An informal poll of those in gallery put the predicted winning score for this weekend's champion between 4-under and 8-under par, and names to watch for on Sunday included Dustin Johnson, Luke Donald and, unsurprisingly, McIlroy, a crowd favorite.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

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