It’s cool to watch the early guys out at the U.S. Open on Saturday, like a couple lean young kids who made the cut on the number and had the Grey Goatee Research geeks scrambling (in a manner of speaking).
Watch and appreciate.
Wilco Nienaber averaged 350-plus off the tee in the first two days, and the 21-year-old South African generates blowback with his long and insanely fast swing you can hear all the way from San Diego. Short-game distress had him up to plus-8 early in his round.
Akshay Bhatia, a 19-year-old Californian, had a couple wins on the Swing Thought Tour (there really is a Swing Thought Tour) before qualifying this month for the Open, where he played practice rounds with Phil Mickelson (who was also out early today).
Russell Henley was last heard from in Grey Goatee Nation grousing about the greens at the Chambers Bay Open in 2015. The co-leader at 5-under won’t tee off for hours, alongside the 48-year-old Englishman who’s really hogging all the ink.
We wrote about Richard Bland the last time he contended, if briefly, in a major, the 2017 Open Championship:
“His name is the definition of colorless, but his game has some snap to it. A 67 Thursday had him two shots off the lead, and a couple early birdies today pulled him briefly into a tie with Jordan Spieth at 5-under. A double-bogey on 13 in the Royal Birkdale rain took a toll, and he finished the day at 1-under, five shots back of leader Spieth.
“Bland will be playing on the weekend, and he deserves to, which is more than I can say for the shirking skivers on my sluggardly research staff. They’ll be around, too, because they won’t go away. Bland might go away, and you’ll forget you ever heard his name. It’s that kind of name.”
He won’t win here, either, but he’s an easy guy to root for.