BETHESDA, MD. (AP) - Only a few months removed from his Masters meltdown, Rory McIlroy made six birdies and not a single bogey in the first round of the U.S. Open to open a three-shot lead on Y.E. Yang.
McIlroy shot 6-under-par 65 on Thursday to open a wide gap on Yang, the 2009 PGA winner, who had shot 3-under 68 several hours earlier. Sergio Garcia and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel were also at 3 under with one hole left to play at Congressional.
With only a handful of players left on the course, McIlroy, who let a four-shot lead slip away on the last day of the Masters in April, was all but assured of holding the lead after the first round _ this would be three of the last four majors. He also led after Day 1 at the British last year.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.
McIlroy, who lost a four-shot lead in the final round at Augusta in April, climbed into first place at Congressional on Thursday, making three straight birdies on his way to 5-under par through 13 holes. He was two shots ahead of Y.E. Yang and Sergio Garcia.
When Yang beat Woods at the PGA, it marked the first time Woods failed to win after taking a lead into the last day of a major. Yang hasn’t contended at a Grand Slam tournament since, but said Congressional Country Club fits his game better than most courses.
“I’ve been playing more conservatively,” Yang said. “I’m trying to make more pars, less bogeys and I was lucky to make a few birdies. Overall, the course and my approach has worked to my advantage.”
He is seeking his second major, while McIlroy is still looking for his first. The 22-year-old from Northern Ireland was nine holes away from winning the Masters in April but started spraying shots around Augusta and fell into a tie for 15th.
He handled the disappointment gracefully, said he’d learn from it, and he walked onto Congressional on a breezy afternoon and showed what he meant. Opening on the back nine, he made an 8 footer for birdie on No. 17 and a putt more than twice that long on 18, then made it three in a row with another birdie on No. 1. He was the first player to reach 5 under at the tournament, regarded as the toughest test in golf.
With five holes left, McIlroy was three shots ahead of American Ryan Palmer and Louis Oosthuizen, who won the British Open last year on the links at St. Andrews and saw a much different course at super-sized Congressional. The South African had an uneven round _ six birdies and four bogeys. He was in the lead for a while, fell back to even par but played 16, 17 and 18 at 2 under to get back near the top of the leaderboard.View Entire Story
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