PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Golf at the 2019 U.S. Open has been relatively tame. And that’s actually a compliment considering how the USGA has laid out its courses, particularly over the last few years. Few will forget Billy Horschel mocking the Poa annua at Chambers Bay in 2015, for example. (By the way, the U.S. Open is expected to head back there at some point.)
But in terms of this year’s event? Well, scores have been low and the course has been fair with little complaint from the golfers. Gary Woodland has gone more than two dozen consecutive holes without a bogey and even broke the 36-hole scoring record for a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach with a 133 (besting Tiger Woods’ mark of 134 back in 2000).
That does not mean we have been without some wacky moments — along with one scary incident — at Pebble Beach.
1. The biggest sandtraps: Pebble Beach is rife with thick rough and tough bunkers, but it has some even bigger bunkers — as in the sand on the outskirts of the Pacific Ocean — that you can also play. First, Brandt Snedeker made birdie from this ridiculous position on No. 18.
While Kevin Na had a less-than-stellar showing this week (he missed the cut after posting a 149), he did have one of the highlights of the first 36 holes. At the 10th hole on Friday, Na mishit his second shot wide — and we do mean wide — right; it was so far, in fact, that Na’s ball wound up on the beach and nearly in the ocean. Yes, he did post a bogey, but it was far from his worst of the day as he tripled the second.
2. A new definition for birdie: If I gave you just one guess at whose ball this seagull was pecking at in the middle of the fairway this week, causing it to move, you would absolutely answer the question correctly. A year after stopping his moving ball on the greens at Shinnecock Hills, Phil Mickelson got some assistance from this seagull at Pebble Beach on the 10th hole. After bombing a tee shot into the fairway, Mickelson could only watch as a seagull identified the foreign object and thought it might be a good idea to try an identify it. The seagull pecked it a few times, then attempted to pick it up, moving the ball a couple of inches.
One problem! The bird moved his ball farther away from the hole rather than closer to it. Mickelson was allowed to replace his ball, and he went on to make, yep, birdie on the hole.
3. Patrick Reed goes Bo Jackson: The 2018 Masters champ had seen enough of this place late on Friday when he finally took it out on one of his wedges. Reed got so frustrated at his play late Friday that he decided to snap a wedge over his knee on the 18th hole. Reed was attempting to sneak inside the cutline and only needed double bogey on his final hole of the day to do so. The problem was that he could not find the green, hitting into the rough on his approach and then overshooting the green into a new set of rough on his next shot. Reed did ultimately save double bogey, but that did not save his wedge. The best part of this whole thing? How little remorse Reed showed for his actions. I could not be more into his attitude and his demeanor about the entire thing.
4. Runaway cart injures five: While Reed’s incident didn’t hurt anyone except him (although I would argue it actually helps his image), our next one did on Friday morning when a concession stand golf cart took off and injured five people. According to the California Highway Patrol, a box that was being transported to a concession stand fell off the front seat of the golf cart and landed on its accelerator, sending it off and running. Two off the five spectators who got hurt were ultimately hospitalized. One of the injured patrons was an 82-year-old man.
5. Avoid the rake: Finally, Jordan Spieth was aghast at this rake he hit out of a bunker on the second hole at Pebble Beach. He took his hat off in disbelief after it happened, and he explained why after his round. “Thought I could clear the lip,” said Spieth.”And when I hit it, all I heard was like the rake. And I guess it slammed into the rake and came back and kind of buried down into the tall grass. So if it didn’t hit the r,ake, I don’t know if it had enough to get anywhere near the green or if it would have been way short or what, but certainly it would have been in a better position than it went to.”