Last Updated: 13/06/14 8:16am
A birdie blitz on the back nine saw Martin Kaymer set the pace after the first round of the US Open at Pinehurst.
Graeme McDowell and Kevin Na had thrown down the early marker with rounds of two-under only for Kaymer to storm clear of the pack.
From sharing the lead after 10 holes, Kaymer picked up birdies at 14, 16 and 17 to sign for a superb five-under 65.
In his day one blog from the US Open, former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie praises the course and the exploits of first-round leader Martin Kaymer. Montgomerie said: “I think there were two winners today, I really do. The golf course, Pinehurst No 2, held up remarkably well. The USGA did a great job in setting up this course. That was one of the winners, the other, of course was Martin Kaymer. That back nine of 31 was extremely special and that has set him up because we are not talking about a rookie here, we are talking about a major winner, the Players champion, and I think he can go the whole way.”
Kaymer’s late charge might have been the story of the day at Pinehurst however a number of players produced some magical moments. Denmark’s Lucas Bjerregard made a stunning chip out of the sand en route to a level-par round, while wizard of Oz Aaron Baddeley holed a putt from the fringe on the 10th. Patrick Reed showed why he has enjoyed such an amazing 12 months with a bunker shot that hit the flag at the ninth, while Brooks Koepka got his round off to an impressive start when he holed from the edge of green at the third. However the pick of the shots had to the monster putt from Paul Casey at the 18th which meant the Englishman finished level despite having missed the fairway and then landed short of the green.
US Open specialist Graeme McDowell was at it again at Pinehurst as he took a share of the clubhouse lead. McDowell, the winner of the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach and also runner-up at Olympic Club in 2012, shot an opening 68. "Everything kind of went to plan," said McDowell. “I executed my gameplan very well. I spent the last few days just preparing myself mentally for the challenge, knowing that this golf course wasn't going to give much and it was only going to take. I really felt like I got my head in the right place the last few days.”
Rory McIlroy described his opening one-over 71 on the first day of the US Open at Pinehurst as "solid" but admitted he struggled on the greens. "It was quite scoreable," said McIlroy, who had three bogeys and two birdies on his card. “There were a few generous pin positions out there, a few on the front of the greens A few tees were moved up as well and there was still a bit of moisture in the greens this morning. I'm sure that's going to change this afternoon as the dry and hot weather continues. But there's some chances out there to make birdies."
English amateur star Matt Fitzpatrick had mixed emotions after his opening 71 in the US Open at Pinehurst. The 19-year-old outscored one of his playing partners - defending champion Justin Rose - and finished just one behind the other, Phil Mickelson, after suffering a one-shot penalty on his penultimate hole. "Pleased and disappointed at the same time," said Fitzpatrick, who briefly shared the lead when he birdied two of his first three holes. "To get under par really was quite nice, and it would have been nice to just steady out the rest of the day. But it was a bit up and down and I had back-to-back bogeys twice, so that was a bit annoying."
Phil Mickelson's bid to complete his haul of all four major titles is on track after a first-round level par 70 at Pinehurst. Mickelson said: "It was a good start, a good start to the tournament. I had opportunities to shoot in the red and get under par early and I would have loved to have taken advantage of that. I putted okay but didn't make any of the ones you need to make, the 15-20 footers you need to have a good round. I had a chance to get three, four, five-under today had I made some makeable opportunities. But I didn't throw anything away on the short ones."
Rickie Fowler paid tribute to the late Payne Stewart on Thursday, wearing his idol's trademark plus fours for the opening round of the US Open at Pinehurst. "Payne was one of my all-time favourite players," Fowler said after an opening round of 70. "I never had a chance of meeting him, but obviously loved watching him play and loved how he handled himself on and off the golf course. It's cool to be in the position I'm in to wear some attire like he used to wear, to give tribute to him."
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