June 19, 2015 - 2:39pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Jason Day
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Jason Day tosses his club in the air after holing out for a birdie on the first hole Friday.

Jason Day's third shot from short range on the par-5 first hole at Chambers Bay -- his 10th hole in the second round of the U.S. Open on Friday -- sailed through the green and rolled roughly 30 yards off.

RELATED: U.S. Open leaderboard | Tiger's club flies | McIlroy frustrated with greens

The mics caught Day's reaction, which was, "That was a joke."

His fourth shot, however? That was no joke.

Check it out:

 

That's one way to make a birdie. Day followed that birdie with another birdie on the par-4 11th and was in a tie for eighth at the time of this post. 

Moments after 'joke' shot, Day holes out for birdie
June 19, 2015 - 12:39pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Darren Clarke
Vine
Solid shots -- and putts -- aren't always rewarded at Chambers Bay, as Darren Clarke is learning.

The greens at Chambers Bay this week have been a serious point of contention amongst players. Ernie Els called them, "the worst," he's played on in his career. Sergio Garcia said via his Twitter account that they're, "just as bad as the look on TV."

Not exactly ringing endorsements.

RELATED: U.S. Open leaderboard | Tiger's club flies | McIlroy frustrated with greens

We've seen plenty of examples already of well-struck putts that seem to have a mind of their own.

Like this one from Darren Clarke. How did that not drop in the hole?

Fast, bumpy greens just aren't a good combination.

The players who will succeed this week are the ones who will recognize they're going to have bad breaks like everyone else and just keep the tough holes at a manageable number. 

Clarke putt somehow doesn't drop
June 19, 2015 - 8:34am
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T.J. Auclair
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Rickie Fowler
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Rickie Fowler's first round, 11-over 81 at Chambers Bay wasn't pretty -- with the exception of a tee shot on the par-4 12, which nearly landed in the hole for a rare hole-in-one albatross.

There weren't a whole lot of bright spots in the first round of the U.S. Open for Rickie Fowler on Thursday.

RELATED: U.S. Open leaderboard | Tiger's club flies | McIlroy frustrated with greens

However, a tap-in eagle was one of them. Check out this tee shot Fowler hit on the 317-yard, par-4 12th hole:

Magnificent.

Unfortunately for Fowler, that's as good as it would get at Chambers Bay. He shot an 11-over 81 with a triple bogey, two double bogeys and six bogeys and is currently next-to-last in the 156-player field. 

Fowler's near hole-in-one albatross a lone bright spot
Fox Sports
A look at Tiger Woods losing his club on a shot.

When you're Tiger Woods, you take the good and you take the bad. The good was documented and celebrated for two decades, but his comeback attempt has seemingly documented plenty of the bad. Or even misfortunate. Like this.

MORE: Bubba's bunker blunder | U.S. Open Leaderboard

This shot was captured on by Fox Sports during TV coverage on the eighth hole, a hole Woods would actually par. He had four bogeys and no birdies through eight holes Thursday and will have his work cut out for him next 27 holes to try to stick around for the weekend.

With his ball at the bottom of deep fescue rough, Woods takes a full hack at it. But as the club bottoms out and hits the ground, watch what happens:

 

 

 

It appears Woods either lets go of the club at that point, or it twists out of his grip. Either way, the club flew several yards behind Tiger, landing about the same time Tiger's ball reached the fairway.

Was Woods' reaction possibly related to the pain he suffered when he struck a tree root with a shot back in the Masters in March? Certainly that would stick in your mind the next time you're faced with a similar predicament, although Woods -- through his agent -- claimed he had suffered no injury.

If anything, the unusual shot finally seemed to settle Woods down. He went on to save par, then added another at the par-3 ninth. Unfortunately, four early bogeys put Woods in a hole, and he made the turn at 4-over 39.

Tiger Woods loses club on swing at U.S. Open
June 18, 2015 - 1:40pm
Posted by:
T.J. Auclair
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Bubba Watson
Vine
Bubba Watson took a double bogey on the par-4 10th hole at Chambers Bay on Thursday after running into issues in a greenside bunker.

Given that Chambers Bay is so different, we've been hearing grumblings for months that we'd likely see a lot of shots we're not accustomed to seeing the pros hit during this week's U.S. Open.

RELATED: U.S. Open leaderboard | Bubba Watson holes outrageous practice-round putt

Two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson can attest to that. Check out this shot he hit on the 427-yard, par-4 10th hole from a greenside bunker:

 

That wasn't pretty. Watson went on to double bogey the hole. It was his second double bogey of the day to that point after also having doubled the first hole.

Watson's ball barely moves after bunker shot
June 17, 2015 - 10:10am
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T.J. Auclair
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Phil Mickelson
USA Today Sports Images
Phil Mickelson is one U.S. Open away from becoming just the sixth player to complete the career modern-day grand slam.

The second major championship of the season takes place this week in the Pacific Northwest with the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

It'll be interesting to say the least. Most of the field hasn't seen the course, which opened in 2007, until this week. There's also the fact that Chambers Bay, with a gorgeous backdrop of Puget Sound, looks more like what you'd expect to see a British Open played on than a U.S. Open.

The USGA is known for providing a stern test. This week will be no different. As is always the case in a U.S. Open, patience will likely be the greatest attribute of the player who wins.

RELATED: U.S. Open first-round tee times | Fowler hopes Players win leads to major

It will be fascinating to watch.

Here are the five players you'll want to keep an eye on at Chambers Bay.

5. Ernie Els
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T13 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational
Reason to watch: To say this has been a rough season for the Big Easy would be an understatement. He has missed more cuts (six) than he's made (five). In 11 starts, he has just two finishes inside the top 25. I'm trying to come to terms with labeling a four-time major winner a "dark horse" but that's what I'm going to do here in the case of Els. He shines in the majors. Need proof? For starters, Els has an astounding 35 top-10 finishes at the majors in his career. And, dating back to 1992, there have been only four seasons (1995, 1998, 1999 and 2011) where Els hasn't placed inside the top 10 at at least one major. Talk about longevity. This week, he takes on a link-style course. He's fared well on those before, having won the 2002 and 2012 British Opens. But this is the U.S. Open, you say. It is. And he's won two of those before as well (1994, 1997). A win at a major would be a hell of a way to snap out of a slump, but this 45-year-old veteran could be just the man to do it.

4. Rickie Fowler
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the Players Championship
Reason to watch: How will Fowler follow up this major season compared to the one he had a year ago in which he was the only player in the world to record top-10 finishes in each of the four? Well, that's already out after a T12 at the Masters -- still a solid, solid week. But, if you were to tell Fowler he could have four top-10s at the majors in a season, or one top-10, specifically a win, he'd take the "W." He gained loads of confidence from those major performances in 2014. And, he comes into this week as the reigning Players Champion after a historic finish at TPC Sawgrass. Fowler, 26, is finally coming into his own. My crystal ball says there are major victories in his future.

3. Rory McIlroy
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship and the Wells Fargo Championship
Reason to watch: It feels a little dirty throwing the world's No. 1 player and winner of two of his last three starts on the PGA Tour in the No. 3 spot this week, but I have my reasons. Right after the Wells Fargo, McIlroy went back to Europe for the BMW PGA Championship and the Irish Open. Surely fatigued, it was still a surprise to see him miss the cut in both events. I'm chalking that up to an abberation. McIlroy will most certainly be a contender this week and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see him claim his fifth major overall. I'm sure he's well-rested now, but there are two players who I think could be his biggest obstacles this week...

2. Jordan Spieth
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
Won the Valspar Championship and the Masters
Reason to watch: I can't get enough of Spieth these days. He is just so rock solid. He's also the only player in this week's field who has a chance to claim the season's first two majors. The 21-year-old Masters champion seems to always find a way to be a contender come Sunday these days. At the Crowne Plaza Invitational near the end of May, Spieth closed with a 65 in the final round to tie for second. Seemingly not much of a factor a couple of week's later in the Memorial, Spieth fired another final-round 65 to tie for third. The guy is a stud.

1. Phil Mickelson
Best finish in 2014-15 season:
T2 at the Masters
Reason to watch: I don't want Mickelson to win a U.S. Open. I need Mickelson to win a U.S. Open -- a tournament where he has painfully been a runner up on six occasions. If he wins this one tournament, the man we once badgered about when he'd win his first major, would suddenly have himself a career grand slam. In the Masters era, only Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen have achieved the career grand slam. Outside of Woods, there is no player over the last 20 years with the sustained success of Mickelson. Golf doesn't owe anyone anything. But it sure feels like golf owes Mickelson a U.S. Open.

Here's how my five to watch fared last week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic:
 
5. Phil Mickelson -- T3
4. Webb Simpson -- Missed cut
3. Harris English -- T45
2. Billy Horschel -- T8
1. Dustin Johnson -- W/D

 

5 players to watch at the U.S. Open