That's some killer grass

CHRIS STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

OAKMONT, PA. -- Golfers already have a bit of a reputation for being wimps in the sports world.

Let's face it. Any sport you can play while you smoke a cigar and drink a beer while driving a cart...that's a little sketchy, huh?

Now comes this revelation.

The top guys in the game are getting beaten up by grass. Put on the DL by hay. They are having their arms twisted by salad.

The U.S. Open has always been the greatest test of a golfer's mental strength, his ability to handle pressure, his ability to stay composed in trying conditions.

But this year's Open has now apparently become a physical threat, too.

"Dangerous," said world No. 2 Phil Mickelson, already wearing the black badge of courage, a wrap on his left wrist which he originally injured here last month practising chipping out of the rough.

He said it after tromping off the course following a 77 yesterday, which included a four-putt on the 10th green, and missing the cut by a stroke.

Maybe it's best for him because he came off the course fearing for his safety.

"With this liquid fertilizer and these new machines that make the rough stick straight up, it absolutely is dangerous," he said.

"The first practice round on Monday, (physical therapist) Jim Weathers had six other appointments, people hurting their ribs, their back, their wrists. It's dangerous, it really is."

Maybe he's got a bit of a point.

There were some who shared his opinion yesterday.

Vancouver's Richard Lee had to withdraw after 15 holes (he was 20 over par at the time) yesterday after hurting his right wrist hitting a shot out of the rough.

Lee, the 16-year-old who still hopes to play his first event as a pro next week, said he thinks he first hurt it on the 11th hole on a chip shot.

"It was a little chip shot, probably 20 feet, but I took a full swing at it because it was all the way down there. After that shot, I was like 'Whoa, what happened to my wrist?' I was trying to concentrate, but I couldn't. There was a lot of pain in my wrist," he said.

"A couple of holes later, I shanked one. I couldn't grab onto the club. It was hurting."

Lee said he was disappointed he didn't get a chance to finish the tournament.

"I wanted to finish the tournament for sure," he said. "It would be an honour to finish this tournament at this course."

I've heard golf courses described a lot of different ways and the hyperbole usually shifts into high gear here at the U.S. Open.

Conditions are often described as "tough," the always popular "brutal," and, newly coined by first-round leader Nick Dougherty, "barbaric."

But dangerous?

"Yeah, it is. That's a good point," said Mike Weir, whose 72 yesterday left him in a tie for 19th.

He had been practising a shot out of the rough shown to him by Vijay Singh, using a rescue club and a bunker-type shot and had his wrist get sore.

You could argue what makes it dangerous is the golfers' greed. Faced with an impossible lie in the deep stuff, they'll still try and gouge it out and put it on the green rather than chipping it out sideways like the rest of us would.

Of course, they aren't the rest of us.

But Mickleson insists he injured himself just chipping the ball out of the rough around Oakmont's greens last month as part of his usual preparation for a major.

"That really was dangerous doing what I was doing because the rough was twice as long and I thought they might play it like that.," he said.

What was he going to do yesterday while he waited to see if he made the cut?

"Go watch the carnage," he said.

Good word.


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