TULSA, OKLA. — Former Kansas University golfer Matt Gogel used the home-course advantage Thursday during the first round of the U.S. Open at Southern Hills Country Club.
Gogel, who attended high school in Tulsa, shot an even-par 70 during the rain-plagued opening round. He is tied for fourth place, three shots behind leader Hale Irwin.
"I have probably played here 20 times before this week. I am familiar with the golf course. I am not familiar with how firm it is," Gogel said after his round.
"I could never believe I'd hit a 5 wood off the tee on a 640-yard par 5 (No. 5), but that's how I played the hole."
Gogel shot even-par despite recording three double-bogeys.
That's three sixes.
"You look at my scorecard and you see three sixes on it and three sixes doesn't lend itself to a pretty good score," Gogel said.
"But it's the U.S. Open and I stayed pretty patient. I made enough birdies to make up for the mistakes. I would certainly take four even par rounds and see where I stand. I think the field would take four of these."
Gogel made a sand save on the 466-yard par-4 18th hole for par.
"That tap in save was great, and getting in before the storm was even better," Gogel said.
He's glad he's in the hunt.
""It's so important to get off to a good start. The momentum carries you, especially in a U.S. Open. If you go over par the first four or five holes it's such a battle to get strokes back," he said.
Gogel is competing in his fifth open. His wife Blair, who is pregnant, lended support walking some of the front nine with Gogel on Thursday.
"I made her go home and rest," the golfer said.