SAN FRANCISCO — Luke Donald doesn't regret not coming to The Olympic Club ahead of the U.S. Open to learn the golf course.
He's not sure how he could have applied any lesson.
Donald had a 72 on Friday and finished at 11-over 151, missing the cut for the second time in the last four majors. No other player has been at No. 1 longer than Donald without ever winning a major. He has tried playing the week before a major and taking a week off, so he's still searching for the right formula because he said he felt uncomfortable with this swing all week.
Would course knowledge have helped?
"I've tried various things," Donald said. "The problem these days when we play majors is the week before is nothing like when you get to Thursday — even Wednesday was different to Thursday. They have a knack to get this course playing differently. When it comes to turning up on Thursday morning, it seems like a different animal. I certain don't regret anything that I did before teeing up on Thursday.
"I just didn't come here swinging well enough, and obviously my putter was a bit cold this week."
If there was any consolation, Donald finally made his first birdie on his 24th hole of the tournament, and wound up with three of them. They just weren't enough to overcome five bogeys or give himself a reasonable chance to play on the weekend.
"I think it was more a case of just not quite feeling too comfortable with the swing this week," Donald said. "And that happens — not just major weeks, but other weeks, too. But unfortunately at major weeks, that's going to be magnified even more.
"I was a little off," he said. "And that's going to get you on a U.S. Open course."
KUCHAR COMMENT: Matt Kuchar made it sound as if different isn't always better when it comes to the leaderboard at the U.S. Open.
He was asked about Jim Furyk, who had a 69 on Friday to get under par for the tournament, in context of U.S. Open players. Kuchar suggested Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus had done well in the U.S. Open (four titles each), in part because they hit the ball high and far.
"A guy like Lee Trevino probably would not have fared as well at the Masters or U.S. Open — probably would fare well a lot of other places," he said.
Trevino never won a Masters. But he did win the U.S. Open twice, once in a playoff over Nicklaus.
Asked about the high scores for some of the big names, Kuchar again offered a curious answer.
"I think maybe it's just a facet of that it's U.S. Open golf," he said. "It's so different that you're not always going to get the best guys up on top of the leaderboard. It's so difficult that I think sometimes you get guys that you are not used to hearing about. You don't always get the best of the best in the top of the leaderboard at the U.S. Open."
RICKIE'S RECOVERY: The biggest scare Rickie Fowler had at the U.S. Open had nothing to do with Olympic Club.
It was his Titleist.
In a mystery that remains unsolved, a rogue golf ball got into Fowler's bag before the first round Thursday, complete with the orange dot he uses to distinguish it. When he went to tee up his ball on his second hole, he noticed by the markings that it was the 2007 version of the Pro V1.
The problem? Fowler uses the 2009 version.
The rules don't allow players to switch the model of a golf ball in the middle of a round, thus the scare. That was the only such ball Fowler had, meaning he would have to use that the rest of the day and hope he didn't lose it.
Luckily for Fowler, he saw his agent in the gallery, and sent him up the steep hill to the clubhouse to find more of the 2007 version. The mission was a success, and Fowler had enough of the 2007 balls to get him through his round of 72.
Fowler said he used the 2007 version for his first few years, and it wasn't enough of a difference to affect him.
A SLOW BURN: A USGA rules official warned the group of Ian Poulter, Steve Stricker and Matt Kuchar that they were about to go on the clock for being out of position. This did not sit well with Poulter, who said the group would speed up only to stand around and wait.
That's exactly what happened one hole later, all three of them standing in the sixth fairway for about five minutes as the group ahead was on the green.
Told that the group was no longer on the clock, it was all Poulter could take.
"Why are you doing this?" Poulter said to the official, who wanted no part of an argument and simply shrugged his shoulders. "This is stupid."
Stricker was not thrilled with the move either, being put on the clock for less than a hole. Poulter wouldn't let it go, however, and said he wanted to speak to another official. Minutes later, European Tour chief referee Andy McFee arrived in a cart.
The conversation could not be heard, but it began with McFee sternly holding up his hand and saying, "Calm down."
It didn't affect Poulter too much. From the rough, he hit a fairway metal near the green and got his par.
DIVOTS: Dennis Miller, made famous for a putt that hung on the lip and then dropped after a second to earn his first trip to the U.S. Open, didn't get to hang around for the weekend. He had rounds of 80-82 to miss the cut. ... NBC Sports had a 2.1 overnight rating and a 6 share for its two-hour coverage of the opening round. That's up from a 1.4 last year in the first round, and was the highest Thursday rating for the U.S. Open since a 2.1 in 2006, when Tiger Woods returned after his father's death. ... Nick Watney was asked on whether to blame the tough conditions on Rory McIlroy winning at 16-under 268 last year at Congressional. "No, it's not his fault. He set all kind of records like we talked about, so I think we all kind of knew that the USGA was going to come out firing this year, and they haven't disappointed."