Dustin Johnson apparently is a man to be taken at his word. When asked after his opening round 67 at Spyglass Hill which course he scores the worst on, he replied, “Probably Monterey I would score the worst on for sure. Don’t know why, I like the golf course. I feel like I should play really well there. But for some reason I haven’t the last few years, but I’m going to this year.”
Johnson made good on his declaration. Starting his Friday round at the 10th, he jumped out quickly, carding birdies at 10, 11, and 12 before cruising to a stress-free 7 under par 64. With two rounds to go, and both of them at Pebble Beach where Johnson has won twice, he is the odds on favorite heading into the weekend.
But to claim the crystal he’s going to have to hold off a PGA Tour rookie and a slew of tested veterans. Tied for the lead with Johnson at 12 under par is young Beau Hossler. The last time the U.S. Open was played up the road a couple hours at The Olympic Club, Hossler found himself near the lead after two rounds as a 17-year-old amateur.
Now playing his first full season on tour, he backed up his opening round 65 at Pebble Beach with a 67 at Spyglass Hill. Hossler, for the second straight day, turned his scorecard in without a bogey.
“So it all starts off the tee. I was getting the ball in a good spot off the tee and was able to get some shorter clubs from the fairway.” Hossler said. “I missed a couple greens but I chipped it relatively close and didn’t really have anything crazy left for par.”
I was at that U.S. Open and recall Hossler as a big, pudgy teenager with a ton of game and a bit of moxy. He’s matured and reshaped his body, and the confidence still remains. When asked if he’s ever been intimidated on the golf course, his answer was an unwavering “I don’t think so.” If he can put together another round in the 60s at the Monterey course Saturday, he may get a chance to test that resolve face-to-face with the player he’s tied with, who also happens to be ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Some big names are not far behind. Phil Mickelson, John Rahm, Jason Day, Steve Stricker, and first round co-leader Kevin Streelman are 3 shots back at 9 under. All of those players, with the exception of John Rahm, will be at Pebble Beach for the next two rounds. Defending Champ Jordan Spieth fired a solid 66 at Spyglass and finds himself tied for 23rd. Rory Mcilroy and his balky putter skied to a 3 over 74. His round included what is technically a four-putt, but in reality he played five shots with the putter after driving it 340 yards at the short par 4 fifth.
The leaderboard is full of marquee names, but Saturday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am is all about the celebrities. They’ve been a little low key in their crowd interaction thrugh the first two days, but knowing the TV cameras will be on, the smiles will come out and their acts will be in full view. I’d be a little stunned if the leaders, as good a field as they’ve had in years, and ridiculously good weather don’t result in a record-breaking crowd.