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Martin Kaymer seizes US Open lead with 65

Mickelson On Even-Par First Round

BY PAUL NEWBERRY
AP NATIONAL WRITER

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) -- There was something unusual in the opening round of the U.S. Open.

A bunch of scores in the 60s.

The best one of all was turned in by Martin Kaymer.

His confidence spurred by a win at The Players Championship, Kaymer birdied three of the last five holes Thursday for a 5-under 65, the lowest score from any of the three Opens played at Pinehurst No. 2.

The German got up and down for par at the 18th hole, rolling in a testy 6-foot putt to beat the 66 shot by Sweden's Peter Hedblom during the second round in 2005.

Graeme McDowell, Kevin Na and Brendon de Jonge were three shots back.

Kaymer beat a loaded field at The Players last month, snapping a stretch of 29 tournaments without a victory stretching over 18 months.

"I needed a win," Kaymer said. "Whether it was The Players or a regular PGA Tour event, I just needed it for my confidence, for all the hard work I've put in the last couple of years."

Ten other players were in the clubhouse at 69, meaning there were more under-par rounds in this opening round than the last two years combined.

At Merion a year ago, only five players broke par on Thursday.

At Olympic Club in 2012, there were just six scores in the 60s.

No one expected Pinehurst to stay this inviting through the weekend.

"There was some moisture on the greens and you were able to hold shots," Na said. "I was able to capitalize on a good tee time. But there's a long way to go. Obviously, I'm 2-under par right now, but at the end of the tournament even par is going to win this championship."

That's still a good bet.

The last two Open champions finished over par.

Phil Mickelson got off to a strong start as well in his bid for the career Grand Slam, attacking the course with deft iron shots on the way to a 70.

McDowell, who won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010, was as steady as can be on this Donald Ross masterpiece, which has undergone a drastic makeover to restore its rustic look, with patches of natural vegetation - better known as weeds - taking the place of thick, lush rough.

The Northern Irishman bounced back from his only bogey at No. 4 with an eagle 3 at the par-five fifth hole. He added another birdie at the 14th and the rest of his card was filled in with pars, just the sort of solid, mistake-free golf that is required in the U.S. Open.

"You don't have to strike it amazing around here," McDowell said. "You just have to position the ball correctly at all times."

Na also made an eagle at No. 5 on the way to the best Open round of his career. He missed the cuts in 2010 and 2011, and finished 9 over at his last Open two years ago.

After thick cloud cover made things easier for the morning players, the blistering sun broke through and the temperature climbed to 90 by mid-afternoon. Still, there were low scores to be had, with 20-year-old Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and Henrik Stenson among the big group at 69.

Not everyone was thriving. The world's top-ranked player, Adam Scott, shot 73. Masters champion Bubba Watson sprayed shots all over the place on the way to a 76.

Spieth was in the thick of things again, making four birdies to put himself in contention at another major championship. He was tied for the lead heading to the final round of both the Masters and The Players Championship, but couldn't close out either on Sunday. It seems just a matter of time before the young Texan claims a career-defining triumph.

Maybe it will be at Pinehurst.

"I had a lot of fun today. You don't normally say that at the U.S. Open," Spieth said. "I was able to get into the flow early, and able to keep it going. One-under - I would take that four times."

Mickelson already has five majors, but this is the one he wants more than any other. Lefty has been the runner-up a record six times in this event, denying him the only big title missing from his resume. He has changed his grip to deal with a shaky putter, hoping that would help bring his first victory since capturing the British Open last July.

"This is a golf course where I get similar feeling to Augusta," Mickelson said. "You don't have to be perfect. You always have a chance. It is challenging. There are difficult shots. But they're manageable."

In recent weeks, Mickelson has been linked to an insider trading investigation. Clearly, he was able to stay focused on the course.

"I haven't done anything wrong," he said. "I'm willing to help out and would love to help out any way I can with the investigation."

Rory McIlroy, who won the 2011 U.S. Open in a rout at Congressional, opened with a 71.

Defending champion Justin Rose, who held off Mickelson a year ago at Merion, shot 72. There hasn't been a repeat winner in this championship since Curtis Strange in 1988-89.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Ken June 12 2014 at 9:54 PM

So great not having Tiger in the tourney.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
3 replies
MRTRAVEL1 June 13 2014 at 7:29 AM

THE GAME NEEDS TIGER......

HIS PERSONAL LIFE IS HIS..... YOU MAY NOT LIKE WHAT HE DID...OR EVEN DOES...

BUT, HE STILL IS THE GREATEST ---THEEEEE BEST GOLFER IN THE WORLD.....

MOST GOLFERS WANT TO SEE HIM PLAY!!!! , AS WELL AS THE SAME GOLFERS

DO NOT AGREE WITH HIS PERSONAL LIF STYLE OF THE PAST!!!!

HE'S STILLLLLL AND REMAINS THE WORLDS BEST!!!! THE GAME MISSES HIM....

LIKE IT OR NOT...!!!!

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2 replies
hotpack1 MRTRAVEL1 June 13 2014 at 9:32 AM

TIGERS ALL WASHED UP JUST LIKE OBAMA!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
1 reply
hotpack1 hotpack1 June 13 2014 at 9:33 AM

THEY OUGHT TO BOTH JUST FADE AWAY INTO GOLFLAND..thats all there good for!!

Flag +1 rate up
Joepalooka MRTRAVEL1 June 13 2014 at 2:32 PM

YEP, BUT...the game's doing fine in his absence. Mickelson remains a threat and very popular player (the 'anti-Tiger') and Bubba, Adam etc are on the cusp of taking the game over. WHEN Tiger returns -- something I VERY MUCH look forward to, the rivalries will be strong and the game more competitive and improved. Heal Tiger...you're gonna need to!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
cohagert June 13 2014 at 8:26 AM

With Martin Kuymer shooting the best US Open first round since I don't know when, why is your lead photo of "Lefty". Let's forget that 'He's our hero' stuff and start picturing the guys who are playing well. And what about Fran Quinn, 49 years old and in second place after Day 1? Now there's a story and a picture.

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2 replies
billcdaly cohagert June 13 2014 at 9:57 AM

Good post, great observations.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
eric cohagert June 13 2014 at 1:54 PM

I know. How cool is that?!! I guess you're not on the senior's tour until you actually get there. Gives me hope I might post a card under 90 before I can't play anymore. ( I'm 62) LOL

Flag Reply 0 rate up
bigfile4 June 13 2014 at 8:46 AM

So great not having Tiger in the mix? I wonder where that sentiment comes from? He only won 6 tournaments last year and was number one until he was out with his injury. I wonder where the negative sentiment comes from? Hmm...

Flag Reply +3 rate up
yankeeres June 13 2014 at 10:05 AM

What about Fran Quinn? Here is a 49 year old from Mass. that had to go thru qualifying tournaments to get in the US Open and is in second place. Not one word about him in this article.

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neal.b June 13 2014 at 6:54 AM

Why did they prosecute Martha Stewart but not Phil Mickelson for insider trading?

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1 reply
ofleck neal.b June 13 2014 at 9:27 AM

Because the FBI concluded that there was no insider trading as the stock in question was never acted on by Phil! If he never bought into the stock there can be no insider trading, hence no issue! Martha Stewart did trade illegally, hence her sentence. I hope this clears it up for you!

Flag Reply +3 rate up
grant911 June 13 2014 at 12:03 AM

Mickelson is as crooked as a $2.00 Goodwill golf club. I hope he is indited for twenty years.

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6 replies
bdgrizcp June 13 2014 at 9:42 AM

Would it kill AOL to put a leaderboard on an article like this?

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1 reply
eric bdgrizcp June 13 2014 at 1:50 PM

Do you know how to google google?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
lbrown8060 June 12 2014 at 10:29 PM

Great to see Phil compete in a major and the insider trader issue not a factor...but I wonder why the press didn't ask him more questions about playing golf and betting with a known Las Vegas gambler

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Tom Alsop June 13 2014 at 10:11 AM

Oh, what imagination this "writer" has by calling Phil "Lefty." Oooh, never thought of that unique journalistic angle. Is it possible, next time, that you get a little bit more original? Okay, "writey?"

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
eric Tom Alsop June 13 2014 at 1:49 PM

I can only conclude that you do not follow golf. Lefty is Mickelson's nickname.

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