- Associated Press - Thursday, June 16, 2011

BETHESDA, MD. (AP) - A few months removed from his Masters meltdown, Rory McIlroy has a share of the lead at the U.S. Open.

McIlroy, who let a four-shot lead in the final round at Augusta in April, climbed into first place at Congressional Country Club on Thursday, making three birdies over his first nine holes to get to 3-under par, tied with Y.E. Yang and Rory Sabbatini.

Sabbatini was still playing his first nine, while Yang, the 2009 PGA winner, was in the clubhouse after shooting 68.

A shot back were British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and American Ryan Palmer, each with a 69, along with Sergio Garcia, who was 2 under through nine holes.

Defending champion Graeme McDowell and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III were in a group of six who finished at 1-under 70.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) _ Y.E. Yang’s first major championship in 2009 likely is remembered by many as the one Tiger Woods lost.

On Thursday, Yang got off to a good start in his quest for a second title _ one that would certainly carry a different story line.

The South Korean shot 3-under-par 68 to take the early clubhouse lead at a U.S. Open being played without Woods, who is home nursing an injured knee and Achilles.

“Half of my heart is disappointed,” Yang said. “The other half is probably, I wouldn’t say thrilled, but I know my chance is a little bit better because Tiger is not in the field.”

When Yang beat Woods at the PGA Championship, 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.”

His 3-under par was tied with Francesco Molinari, who teed off later and was still early in his round, and good for a one-stroke lead over American Ryan Palmer and Louis Oosthuizen. Oosthuizen 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.

Oosthuizen said the course, softened by rain early in the round, seemed easy compared to what he’d heard might be coming at what is known as the toughest test in golf.

“But it’s only my second U.S. Open, so I can’t really say,” he said.

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