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Mickelson Leads at End of Start-and-Stop First Round at U.S. Open
As expected, weather played a big role in the opening round of the U.S. Open. The year's second major began Thursday on the overcast East Course at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.
Play began at 6:45 a.m., but was halted about an hour and a half later. The first delay lasted three and a half hours. When play resumed just after noon Eastern Time, all was good until 6:12 p.m., when the second horn blasted, sending players and fans scurrying to protected areas because of the threat of thunderstorms.
The first round finally came to an end at 8:15, due to darkness. The players had the option of completing the holes they were on or returning to finish them Friday morning before the start of the second round.
Phil Mickelson, who arrived in the Philadelphia at 4:00 a.m. after attending his daughter's eighth-grade graduation ceremony Wednesday night in San Diego, carded four birdies and a bogey en route to an opening 3-under 67.
The 42-year-old four-time major champion had previously played several practice rounds at Merion, but managed to cope well following his long day. "It might be abnormal, but it actually worked out really well," Mickelson told PGATour.com of his decision to return home.
"I got all my work done on Merion when I was here a week and a half ago. I knew exactly how I wanted to play the golf course, given the conditions, given different wind conditions, clubs I was going to be hitting, where I was going to be and the shots that I was going to have.
"So I didn't feel I needed more time at Merion, what I needed was to get my game sharp, to get my touch sharp. And having a nice practice facility and nice weather for the last couple of days allowed me to do that. So it worked out great on both ends."
Luke Donald was at 4-under thanks to three birdies in a row on Nos. 11-13. But the Englishman still has five holes to complete his opening round. Masters champion Adam Scott is at 2-under through 10 holes along with 2012 U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson (through eight holes) and two Aussies, Matthew Goggin (six holes) and Alistair Presnell (six).
The only other player carding an under-par round Thursday was Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts, who shot a 69. Also at 1-under are England's Lee Westwood (13 holes), Argentina's Estanislao Goya (11), Sweden's Peter Hedblom (11) and Carl Pettersson (nine), Australia's Steven Aiker (six), Brandon Brown (four) and two amateurs, Gavin Hall (five) and Chris Williams (10).
Playing in the marquee group for the first two rounds with Scott are No. 1-ranked Tiger Woods and No. 2 Rory McIlroy. Woods carded four bogeys and two birdies to get to 2-over, while McIlroy was at even-par. Woods opted to wait until Friday to complete the 11th hole, while McIlroy putted out for a bogey.
Sergio Garcia, who's put a lot of pressure on himself the past month after making a racially insensitive comment about Tiger Woods during a players' dinner before the BMW PGA Championship in England, opened with a 3-over 73.
Beginning play on the 11th hole, the 33-year-old had big troubles right off the bat. After a bogey on the 11th, he parred the 12th and birdied the 13th. But then he hit two out-of-bounds tee shots on the 14th and 15th holes - both par-4s - that resulted in a double-bogey and a quadruple-bogey, respectively.
After another bogey on the 18th - combined with a birdie on his last hole, the 10th, gave Garcia a 6-over 40 on the back nine. The front nine (his back) was a bit better, as he carded two birdies, an eagle on the par-5 second and a bogey for a 3-under 33.
"I wasn't really able to get out of trouble because I made a 6 and an 8," Garcia told PGATour.com. "I was able to make a nice recovery, I guess, so that was nice. But obviously I put myself in a tough situation."
Garcia was occasionally heckled during the round by Philly's notoriously verbal sports fans. When he was asked by officials if he'd like police to remove the most vocal fans, Garcia declined, reasoning it'd only make the situation worse.
"There were a couple here and there," Garcia said of the outspoken fans, "but I felt the people were very nice for the whole day. Almost all of them were behind me and that was nice to see."
For updated scores, visit http://www.majorschampionships.com/us-open/leaderboard.html.
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