Sunday at the U.S. Open is all about avoiding disasters, something four-time PGA Tour winner Chris Kirk knows a little something about after stumbling to a 6-over 10 on the first hole out of the gate in Sunday’s final round of the U.S. Open.
For those unfamiliar with golf speak, that’s a sextuple bogey.
If Kirk, playing in the second group out in the curtain-dropper, wishes to blame something -- or someone -- other than first-tee nerves or his own shaky play, he can point the finger at Jordan Spieth and Mike Davis. It was, after all, the USGA executive director’s caving into Spieth’s, um, suggestion, that the 18th be played as a par-5 that had a direct impact on the setup of No. 1 as a par-4, according to Golf Channel analyst Mark Rolfing.
"I believe the most important hole on the golf course is No. 1," Rolfing said Sunday morning from the Tacoma, Wash., course after play got underway for the golfers at the back of the pack.
"When Mike Davis made the decision to play the 18th hole as a par-5, that meant No. 1 became a par-4," Rolfing explained.
The USGA did not change the first hole @ChambersBayGolf to a Par-10, although Chris Kirk just recorded a 10 there in his final round. Yikes.— Aaron Levine (@AaronQ13Fox) June 21, 2015
For the first time in a U.S. Open, the USGA designated two holes -- Nos. 1 and 18 -- to have different pars depending on what Davis decided. So for Thursday’s round one, the first was a par-4 and No. 18 a par-5. They were flipped for Friday, when Spieth uttered his famous "dumbest hole ever played" remark, and again on Saturday, which led everyone to believe No. 1 would be a par-5 and 18 and a par-4 for Sunday’s finale.
But Davis, claiming wind directions and not Spieth’s complaints forced his hand, fooled the golfers by keeping Saturday’s setup for the final 18 holes of regulation.
Bad news, Chris Kirk made a 10 on his opening hole today. Good news ... Weather is really nice! pic.twitter.com/2mkmt9uWS9— Shane Bacon (@shanebacon) June 21, 2015
No doubt, Kirk was not amused, and the players who follow him will have their work cut out for them on the front nine, where Patrick Reed made two of his three double-bogeys on his way to a 6-over 76 on Saturday.
"It is a tough nine holes," said Rolfing. "Hole location is right in the front left corner of that green. It is a very dangerous hole; just ask Chris Kirk."
Best I can tell, it took Chris Kirk 6 shots from the valley left of No. 1 to get onto the green. Holed a 7' putt for a 10.— Doug Ferguson (@dougferguson405) June 21, 2015
For the record, Kirk’s tee shot landed in the left rough, he was short on his approach shot and his next five shots up the hill snaked back down to him, according to the Associated Press. Adding insult to injury, Kirk three-putted on the first of 18 oh-so-popular putting surfaces.
SB Nation video archives: The toughest holes in all of golf (2014)