SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Oregon State junior men's golfer Nick Sherwood had Beaver Nation buzzing with a birdie on his opening hole of the 112th U.S. Open Championship on Thursday before finishing the first round with a respectable 8-over 78 on one of the toughest layouts in championship golf history.
"I didn't play my best but I just tried to post a score and hang in there and see what everybody else does," Sherwood said. "It's one of those golf courses where if you make par you think `sweet.' You're bound to hit some great shots that don't work out for you. But you have to live and learn. It's a crazy tough course. Anything under-par out there is very, very solid."
Sherwood striped his drive down the middle of the fairway on the difficult par-4, 520-yard first hole, hit a solid approach shot and made a nine-foot putt for birdie to put his name on the first page of the leaderboard. He got as high as a tie for second place when he was 1-under through four holes but had five bogeys and two doubles over the final 14 holes at the par-70, 7,170-yard Lake Course at The Olympic Club.
"I was super, super pumped on the first hole and just focused on keeping a balanced swing," Sherwood said. "I hit it 360 yards on that hole and I don't hit it that far. I had an 8-iron and hit it to nine feet and rolled it in. It was a sweet way to start my first major."
The cut will take place after conclusion of play on Friday. All golfers in the top 60, including ties, and anyone within 10 strokes of the lead will make the cut and play the weekend. Sherwood will tee it up at 2:42 p.m. off the ninth hole in Friday's second round and be paired with professionals Mark McCormick from Middletown, N.J. and Cole Howard from Fort Worth, Texas for the second straight day.
"I'm not counting myself out," Sherwood said. "If I just go out there and play a solid round of golf I think I'll be right near the cut. I'm just going to go out there and play. The wind will be up tomorrow so it will be more difficult. But it's still golf. You have to hit shots and get yourself out of the atmosphere of the event, which is easier said than done."
The U.S. Open is known as the toughest test in golf and it proved to be true as the long rough and quick greens, which are among the smallest targets in major championship golf, made for a long day on the course. Sherwood and his father Bill, who is caddying for him this week, started at 9:27 a.m. and didn't finish until 2:55 p.m. in a round that took nearly five and a half hours to complete.
"It was the most physically and mentally demanding round of golf I've ever played," Sherwood said. "I've never felt so exhausted after a round of golf. It was a grind out there. Every shot you have to think. Every shot you have to hit well. You have to be on top of your game for all 18 holes out there. That's for sure."
Several veteran PGA Professionals struggled in nearly perfect weather conditions as Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Steve Stricker and Lucas Glover each shot a 6-over 76, Zach Johnson and Rory McIlroy both carded a 7-over 77 and Masters champion Bubba Watson matched Sherwood with an 8-over 78. Luke Donald, the No. 1-ranked player in the world, finished with a 9-over 79.