U.S. Open first round in progress: Several stay under par

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PINEHURST, N.C. — There was something unusual in the opening round of the U.S. Open.

A bunch of scores in the 60s.


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Graeme McDowell, Kevin Na and Brendon de Jonge took advantage of favorable conditions to shoot 2-under 68, and Martin Kaymer cruised around Pinehurst No. 2 in the afternoon looking to snatch the lead for himself Thursday.

Seven other players were in the clubhouse with 69s. With plenty of contenders still out on the course, it seemed certain there would be 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.

Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament in Pinehurst, N.C., Thursday, June 12, 2014. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

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Phil Mickelson watches his tee shot on the 13th hole during the ... more >

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 winners finished over par.

Kaymer was atop the scoreboard at 4 under with two holes to play on the 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.

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 shooting 70.

McDowell, who won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010, was as steady as can be in the sand hills of North Carolina. 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 at a major championship won the last two years with above-par scores.

“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 cut in both 2010 and 2011, and finished 9 over at his last Open two years ago.

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