UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. - Tom Hoge took care of his first-tee jitters in his first U.S. Open the best way he knows how: With a nice, easy par.
Not everything was nice and easy all day long, but Hoge felt solid about a first-round 73 Thursday in the 115th U.S. Open at Chambers Bay Golf Course.
"I kind of settled into a nice groove," the Fargo native said of a five-hole stretch on his opening nine (the back) where he recorded five straight pars.
The putting, on Chambers Bay's uneven and twisty greens, was "a little wild," he said.
"You take good putts, and they're just bouncing around the hole, and it's just a matter of how they bounce whether they go in or not," he said.
"I mean, depending on how much poa (grass) is on 'em, and on a few holes around the bunkers there's rocks kicked up on 'em. But it kind of fits the characteristics of the whole course. You're not sure what you're gonna get when you come in with an iron shot, and putting's kind of the same."
Hoge was generally pleased with his ball-striking - one shot (on No. 6) ended up two feet away, and he tapped in for his lone birdie.
What did he learn from his first day in a U.S. Open?
"I tried to play conservative today and not get in a lot of trouble," he said, "definitely the whole patience thing, just plodding along and making pars. They're pretty good out here right now."
Hoge is looking forward to being first out on No. 1 in Friday's second round - he tees off at 9 a.m. Central time. With softer greens early in the morning, chipping will be easier.
"Our misses won't be quite as severe," he said.