Archive for Sunday, June 15, 2003

Dream’ start has Price in hunt

June 15, 2003

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— Nick Price got off to one of those starts golfers dream of, the kind they spin tales about 25 years down the road.

He birdied five of his first six holes, charging to the top of the U.S. Open leaderboard at 9 under. The way the wind was swirling, few were going to match that.

But just as quickly as the magic came Saturday, it disappeared. He bogeyed four of the next six holes, and couldn't put the ball in the fairway.

"He hit it absolutely pure the first five, six holes. It was really something to watch," said Tom Watson, Price's playing partner. "We were walking up 15, and I said, 'Where did that swing go?"'

By the time Price reached the 17th green, his game was "leaking oil" and he knew he had to do something -- and quickly. He drained a 9-footer for par, then closed out with a birdie on 18.

Despite five bogeys, he finished with a 69 -- putting him squarely in contention going into the final round of one of the two majors he hasn't won.

Price is five strokes behind leader Jim Furyk.

"Even though I made six birdies today, I still shot under par, and I would have taken that at the beginning of today," Price said. "There's only two guys out in front of me. Sometimes they get to playing each other and make a few mistakes.

"The fight starts tomorrow on the back nine."

And if he gets off to a start like he did Saturday, don't count him out.

"Oh, man, you dream about starting like that in a major championship," Price said. "It was a lot of fun. I just kept doing the right thing."

He holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 first, then made putts of 8, 10 and 6 feet on the next three holes. On the 555-yard par-5 sixth, he used a driver and was on the green in two. That second shot left him 25 feet from the hole, but he rolled it in for his fifth birdie.

Even his mistakes seemed to go well. When he guessed the wrong club on the par-3 seventh and wound up with a scary-looking plugged lie on the upslope of a greenside bunker, just inches from the lip, he escaped with a bogey.

"I knew I was going to make some bogeys today, because it's almost impossible to go out there and play golf without making a bogey," Price said.

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