Phil Mickelson reigned atop the leaderboard at three-under for the majority of Thursday's U.S. Open action, but Luke Donald came on late to overtake him at minus-four. Mickelson is in the clubhouse with a 67, but Donald still has time in his opening round to pad his lead or perhaps fall off the pace.
Reigning Masters champion Adam Scott played alongside Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy and outplayed them.
Woods is at two-over, and McIlroy is even, while Scott matched Mickelson at three-under par through 11 holes. FOX Sports' Robert Lusetich chimed in on the Grand Slam hype when Scott briefly shared the lead:
Donald notched three consecutive birdies at holes 11 through 13 to cap off his day, but the final five holes are where Merion Golf Club really flexes its muscles. It's conceivable that he could struggle on that stretch of this world-class venue in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
Even with two weather delays that caused Round 1 to be cut short, very few players have completed their opening rounds in the red—which is a good thing in golf, of course.
It was a particularly impressive showing from Mickelson, who three-putted his opening hole at No. 11 not long after getting off a plane. He attended his daughter's eighth-grade graduation in California on Wednesday night.
That clearly didn't stop him, and Golf Channel's Jason Sobel documented one of the highlights from Amanda Mickelson's speech in San Diego. The pop culture icon she referred to could be appropriate to describe her father's form thus far:
Mickelson also drained a plethora of putts in his round. He missed just three fairways and four greens in regulation, including this one at No. 1 that barely crept into the cup:
Just one stroke behind Mickelson is defending champion Webb Simpson, who sits at two-under through eight holes.
The only other player to finish in red numbers in the initial morning wave was Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts, who fired a one-under 69. With his ability to hit fairways and greens, he should be a factor as long as he holes some critical putts.
Lee Westwood is still on the course at one-under, and he had an adventurous day to say the least. One of his approaches at the par-four sixth hole sailed into the stands and was caught by a young fan with his bare hands.
Then, the seemingly star-crossed Westwood clanged a pitch shot off the top of the basket that sits on Merion's flags at the par-four 12th, leading to a double bogey and dropping him from minus-three (h/t Shane Bacon of Yahoo!):
Let the jokes commence for Westwood's rotten luck:
Three stars are in at even par: Charl Schwartzel—who held the lead in the early going—Rickie Fowler and Jason Day.
Even more big names near the top of the world rankings are at one-over: Dustin Johnson, Steve Stricker, Justin Rose and Bubba Watson.
Also in that bunch is Ian Poulter, who birdied his first three holes beginning on No. 11 before dropping back a bit. His momentum was slightly thwarted by the initial rain delay. Poulter was mostly pleased with his play after the round, though, noting how difficult Merion was playing:
It should be an exciting tournament to say the least, with so many players still yet to make it through 18 holes and several safely in striking distance of the lead.