U.S. Open First Round News & Notes
By Kevin Currie, Golf Editor
San Francisco, CA (Sports Network) - The top-three players in the world were paired together for the first two rounds at the U.S. Open Championship.
After Thursday's first round, at least two of them might like to run and hide.
World No. 3 Lee Westwood had the best round of the group as he carded a three- over 73 to end tied for 40th.
Rory McIlroy, the second-ranked player in the world, carded just one birdie en route to a seven-over 77. The defending champion missed more greens in regulation (12) today than he did in four rounds last year at Congressional Country Club (10).
World No. 1 Luke Donald went birdie-free in his round of nine-over 79.
After one round, the cut line would be plus-four. That will likely move higher. Donald will likely have to break par tomorrow if he hopes to play the weekend, while McIlroy will need no worse than an even-par round to stick around for the final two rounds.
Westwood stumbled out of the gate with a double-bogey on the first. He also dropped shot on the fourth and sixth to slide to plus-four.
The Englishman posted his first birdie at the short seventh, but he tripped to a bogey on the ninth. Westwood parred seven in a row from the 10th. He birdie No. 17 to get back to plus-three. He parred the last to end there.
McIlroy bogeyed the first. He birdied three of five holes from the fifth to finish nine holes at plus-four. After a bogey at 12, he carded his only birdie of the day at the par-three 12th.
The Northern Irishman stumbled to three bogeys in his last four holes to end in a tie for 109th.
"I got off to a decent start and then it's just so tough here if you put yourself out of position at all. It's so tough to make your pars from there," said McIlroy. "Too many times I was just in the wrong position off the tee or with my second shot and it makes it very difficult."
Four times in his round, Donald posted back-to-back bogeys. He did it at one and two, then again at five and six. He parred the next three to post 38 after nine holes.
On the back side, he bogeyed two straight from the 10th and again from the 13th. Donald's final bogey came on the long par-five 16th.
"As I said earlier, at the U.S. pen, the margins are that much smaller and if you're just a little bit off, which I was today, it's tough," Donald said. "And then you have to really rely on chipping it close and making some putts and I didn't do that. My putter kind of went cold today, otherwise I could have probably ground out some more respectable score. But this place is tough."
CASEY MARTIN SHOOTS 74
Casey Martin struggled out of the gate with five bogeys in his first six holes, but he managed to play the final 12 holes in one-under par as he shot four-over 74 Thursday at the U.S. Open.
"I was really nervous. I tried not to be. I tried to realize that there's really not much pressure on me, but it didn't work," Martin admitted. "But the first five or six holes were a stress," stated Martin. "Then obviously they were really hard, but I missed a couple putts and did some stuff that wasn't great."
Martin, who was born with birth defect in his right leg known as Klippel Trenaunay Weber syndrome, drove a cart for his 18 holes as he was allowed to do after suing the PGA Tour in 2001.
Now the golf coach at the University of Oregon, Martin got into the field through two levels of qualifying.
He hasn't played a lot of golf recently as his Ducks made it to the NCAA Championships, which were two weeks ago. It showed early on in his round.
Martin bogeyed the first two holes, then dropped shots on three straight holes from the fourth. He got one shot back with a birdie on the drivable par-four seventh.
"I was nervous and hit a poor drive on one and made a tough bogey," Martin explained. "And then I hit a really, really bad shot out of the fairway on No. 2 and was just like, what? This could be a long day. But fortunately the birdie on seven settled me down and I was able to play nicely after that."
The 40-year-old parred four in a row after his birdie. He dropped one last shot on the 12th. Martin picked up a late birdie on No. 17 and he parred the last for his 74.
"I thought the galleries were great in '98 ," said Martin, who tied for 23rd at this course in 1998. "I didn't have anything negative happen to me and they were wonderful today. Really, really supportive. So it was a special day, really thankful that I played decently but, man, it's a stress out there."
* The 69 was Woods' fourth under par score in the first round of the U.S. Open. In his previous three, Woods went on to win the title two times.
* Phil Mickelson tied his worst ever opening-round score with his 76. He also shot 76 in the opening round in 1996 at Oakland Hills.
* Beau Hossler is the leader among the eight amateurs after the first round. He carded an even-par 70 with three birdies and three bogeys. Fellow amateur Alberto Sanchez birdied 16 and 17 to post two-over 72.
* Jordan Spieth, who got into the field when Brandt Snedeker withdrew on Monday, posted a four-over 74 two weeks after helping the University of Texas win the NCAA Championship.
* There were seven eagles and a double-eagle on Thursday. Three eagles and the double-eagle happened on the 17th, while the drivable par-four seventh had three eagles. Michael Allen holed out on the par-four 14th for the final eagle.
* Players were being reminded by officials after their rounds that there is no longer a 10-shot rule. The cut will just be the top 60 and ties
* In the first round, the par-five 17th played to an average of 4.77 making it the easiest hole of the day.
* The long par-five first was the hardest as it played to an average of 4.58. It yielded just six birdies all day.
06/15 00:40:25 ET