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US Open Notebook

Wrong direction for Woods, Mickelson

By Michael Whitmer
Globe Staff / June 18, 2012
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SAN FRANCISCO - In need of a fast start on Olympic Club’s toughest holes if he wanted to have any chance at winning, Tiger Woods was a model of consistency coming out of the gate on Sunday. Unfortunately for Woods, he got stuck in the mud and kept spinning his wheels.

Woods, who shared the lead after 36 holes before stumbling to a 75 in the third round, once again made a mess of the first six holes on the Lake Course. He bogeyed No. 1, bogeyed No. 2, doubled No. 3, then bogeyed Nos. 5-6. It was bogey golf one-third of the way into a round from someone who held an outside chance of winning if he could put a 65 or 66 on the board.

Instead, Woods shot 73 - he played his final 11 holes in 3 under - and tied for 21st at 7 over, pushing his streak without a major championship to more than four calendar years.

“Never got it going,’’ Woods said. “The first six, I just didn’t play well at all. I just could never get anything going positively.’’

Phil Mickelson didn’t fare any better. In fact, he was worse. Mickelson shot 78, his highest score at a US Open in 69 rounds, dating to a 79 in the final round in 1994.

Mickelson appeared disinterested and hurried at times, including at the par-4 seventh hole, when his putt for eagle from the top tier of the green was struck with the flagstick still in, and his caddie, Jim Mackay, not tending it. A ball struck from the green that hits the flagstick results in a penalty; Mickelson’s eagle putt raced by the hole, so there was no infraction. But he missed the comebacker for birdie, went on to bogey the eighth, and then four more holes on the back, a birdie-less day that left Lefty tied for 65th, his worst finish at a US Open in which he’s made the cut since 1996, when he tied for 94th.

Wonderful walk

Watching your son play in his first US Open would make any father proud. But caddying for your son on the 18th hole during the final round, played on Father’s Day? Well, let Keegan Bradley’s dad explain how special that was.

“It was the highlight of my life,’’ Mark Bradley said. “It was really a wonderful experience, to be walking the fairway with my son. To walk down the 18th at a US Open is a dream come true.’’

Mark Bradley has been a longtime club professional, working in Vermont, Hopkinton, Mass., and Wyoming, where he’s the head professional at Jackson Hole Golf & Tennis Club. He was in the gallery watching Keegan, then took over for Steve Hale at the last hole.

“It was great. It was a very cool experience that I’m sure we’ll never forget,’’ Keegan Bradley said. “I wish I could have played a little better.’’

Bradley shot 77 (he bogeyed the 18th), and tied for 68th at 18 over.

Caught from behind

The race for low amateur came down to the final hole, with Jordan Spieth overtaking Beau Hossler in a battle of teenagers. Spieth got into the tournament last Monday as an alternate, made the cut on the number, then went 69-70 on the weekend to finish at 7 over.

“I was confident coming in,’’ said Spieth, an 18-year-old who just finished his freshman year at the University of Texas. “I kind of thought that I could give myself a chance at making a run at it. After two rounds I wasn’t able to do that, but I wanted to be low amateur.’’

Hossler, a 17-year-old high school senior-to-be who has committed to Texas, couldn’t maintain the magic he created the first three days, when he briefly held the outright lead on Friday, then shot a third-round 70. He holed lengthy par putts on the first two holes, but made seven bogeys on the day and shot 76. He took a double bogey at the last, which gave Spieth the distinction of being low amateur by two strokes.

Pulled from the field

Charl Schwartzel has withdrawn from this week’s Travelers Championship so he can recover from a pulled rib muscle. He injured himself back home in South Africa, but played in the US Open anyway and made the cut, finishing tied for 38th after a 73. Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, is hoping to be fully healed in time for next month’s British Open . . . Patrick Cantlay, the world’s top-ranked amateur who tied for 41st after a 72, is reportedly signing with Mark Steinberg, Woods’s agent, and will make his professional debut this week at the Travelers. Cantlay said after his round that he hadn’t made a decision . . . Olympic Club member Michael Allen closed with 73 and finished 14 over.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.

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