Date: June 17, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes, Oakmont

Price rues what might have been

For 15 minutes, Aron Price led the US Open.

A birdie on the first in the day’s lead group meant the Sydneysider had the honour until a bogey on the third.

As one of just nine players to complete his first round on a day in which more than eight hours were lost to foul weather, Price was in no mood to contemplate the niceties of a day that left him “extremely frustrated” and having signed for a six-over-par 76.

“When I cool down I might be able to tweet that, but not right now. I can thank the USGA for the draw there,” the passionate 34-year-old said.

“The birdie on one felt good – the 3-iron (tee shot) was good, the 5-iron (approach) was where I wanted it and I made a really good putt (and) the first hole is a tough hole.

“So maybe that’s when the expectation went up and why I’m disappointed.”

Price, in just his second major championship, rued his sub-standard flat stick with four three-putts, including one on the ninth where he putted from 6m and knocked it off the slick surface.

“It’s frustrating because you feel you do the big part right by hitting on the fairway and greens (on such a hard course), but it’s probably a silly way to look at it,” the self-effacing Price said.

“A 300-yard drive is one stroke, just like a four-foot putt is one stroke – I’ve played golf long enough to know that.

“I’ve just gotta putt better – at major championships, you don’t have to putt amazing, but you have to putt better than bad.

“I’m still in my 20-minute zone when I’m hot and maybe I will go back later and say certain things happened that were out of my control.

“But it’s not true. Everything was in my control today. I was just a bit defensive with the putter and maybe a bit scared.

“If I’d been aggressive I might have made an extra bogey, but I probably would have saved a few extra pars and made an extra birdie.

“You shouldn’t have such highs and lows in momentum that I do, but unfortunately I’m still working on that.”

For all his woes, Price is far from out of contention with many bigger-name players already behind him and travelling in the wrong direction.

“I’m talking like it’s over, which I shouldn’t be. If I’d putted decent today I’d be one or two over and if I shoot that tomorrow … it might be good enough (to make the cut).

“But (finishing the round) is good for me because I can go home and take my head out of it for a while because I wasn’t in a good headspace out there.

“It’s just that of my seven bogeys, I realistically should have had only one – on the 15th.

“I only missed a couple of fairways and through the 12th (hole) I had only missed two greens but was four over.

“I played well from tee to green, so it’s just so frustrating when you think what could have been.”