Phil Mickelson leads early at US Open

11:25, Jun 14 2013
Luke Donald
Luke Donald, still chasing his first major victory, speaks to the media following a practice round at Merion.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods plays a shot through the rain to the green during a practice round.
Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia
Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal and Sergio Garcia hug during a practice round ahead of the 113th US Open.
USGA flags
USGA flags flutter in the breeze at Merion Golf Club, outside Philadelphia.
Merion Golf Club
The Merion Golf Club, outside Philadelphia, will host the 113th US Open.
Merion Golf Club
Three spectators walk past a pool of water during Monday's practice round at Merion.
Merion Golf Club
Grounds crew squeegee water off the sixth fairway during a downpour in Monday's practice round.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods holds two golf balls during a practice round ahead of the US Open.
Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods
Golfing legends Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods chat at the Merion Golf Club.
Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood of England plays out of a bunker during a practice round at Merion.
Rory McIlroy
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy signs autographs during his practice round.
Merion Golf Club
The grandstands sit empty during a weather delay during the first round of the US Open at Merion
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia searches for his ball in the rough during the final practice round.
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia discusses a shot with his caddie during the first round.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson takes a chunk of grass out with his second shot from the 12th fairway.
Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler
Bubba Watson (left) and Rickie Fowler wait at the clubhouse during the weather delay.
Weather warning
The sign on the scoreboard tells the story as weather dominated the first morning at the US Open.
2013 US Open at Merion
Lee Westwood of England watches his tee shot on the 11th hole as Luke Donald of England looks on during Round One of the 113th US Open.
2013 US Open at Merion
Tiger Woods of the United States plays his third shot from a bunker on the second hole during Round One of the 113th US Open.
2013 US Open at Merion
Sergio Garcia of Spain walks off the tenth hole after finishing thre over par during Round One of the 113th US Open at Merion Golf Club.
2013 US Open at Merion
Robert Karlsson of Sweden hits a shot from a bunker on the 14th hole during Round One of the 113th US Open at Merion Golf Club.
2013 US Open at Merion
Tiger Woods reacts to missing a putt on the fourth green during the first round of the 2013 US Open.
Luke Donald
Luke Donald receives some instructions from his caddie John McLaren as he finishes his first round at Merion.
Steve Williams and Tiger Woods
Caddie Steve Williams (left) shakes hands with his former boss Tiger Woods at the conclusion of the first round.
Kevin Streelman
Kevin Streelman stretches with his driver on the fifth hole tee box.
US Open spectators
Umbrella-carrying US Open spectators leave the course after play was suspended during the opening round.
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott
The US Open's power threesome of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott.
Adam Scott
Masters champion Adam Scott tees off on the ninth hole at Merion.
US Open officials
US Open officials search in the rough for a ball hit by Angel Cabrera.
US Open spectators
US Open spectators eye players down the fairway during the second round.
Hideki Matsuyama
Japan golfer Hideki Matsuyama discusses tactics with his caddie.
Wicker basket flag
A caddie holds a flagstick with the famed Merion wicker basket atop it.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods
US Open 2013 gallery
Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods walk up the 10th fairway together during the second round.
US Open 2013 gallery
Billy Horschel shares the lead with Phil Mickelson after two days play at the US Open.
US Open 2013 gallery
Phil Mickelson is all smiles after his second round score gave him a share of the lead.
Merion Golf Club
The scene at the 17th green at Merion Golf Club during the 113th US Open.
Steve Stricker
Steve Stricker leans on his putter as he reads the line of a putt during the second round.
Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter walks down the steps from the 17th tee to the green at Merion.
Cheng-Tsung Pan
Taiwan's Cheng-Tsung Pan plays from the bunker at the 15th hole.
US Open at Merion gallery
Charl Schwartzel held the lead at the halfway point in the third round.
US Open gallery 2013
Luke Donald unleashes a tee shot during the third round.
US Open 2013 gallery
Phil Mickelson and caddie Jim Mackay survey the scene on the fifth hole at Merion.
US Open 2013 gallery
Tiger Woods fired a six-over 76 in the third round.
US Open 2013 gallery
Hunter Mahan plays a shot from the fairway on the first hole of the final round.
US Open 2013 gallery
Australia's Jason Day reacts after missing a putt on the 15th hole.
US Open 2013 gallery
Billy Horschel plays a tee shot on the second hole in his final round.
US Open 2013 gallery
Phil Mickelson jumps for joy after holing out for eagle on the 10th hole.
US Open gallery 2013
2013 US Open champion Justin Rose.
US Open 2013 gallery
Justin Rose with the US Open trophy.
US Open 2013 gallery
Justin Rose points skywards to acknowledge his late father after holing out for par on the 18th green.

Phil Mickelson had the early first-round lead to himself at the US Open, despite having arrived at Merion Golf Club just hours before his 7.11am tee time.

Mickelson flew overnight from San Diego after watching his oldest daughter graduate from the eighth grade and, at first, was a little shaky

But after rolling a birdie putt 8 feet past his first hole and putting his tee shot in the rough at his second, he settled himself - no doubt with the aid of a 3 1/2-hour rain delay - and shot a 3-under 67.

Phil Mickelson
MICKELSON LEAD: Phil Mickelson is in the early lead after a rain-interrupted first day of the US Open.

"I might have used just a little caffeine booster at the turn just to keep me sharp," Mickelson said. "But that was our ninth hole or so, and I just wanted to make sure I had enough energy."

It was his lowest opening round in the championship since 1999.

"If I'm able - and I believe I will - if I'm able to ultimately win a US Open, I would say that it's great. ... But if I never get that win, then it would be a bit heart-breaking," he said.


By the time he tapped in a par to finish his round, the sun had replaced clouds, and putters had long replaced squeegees. Drenching storms caused the morning delay, halting play less than two hours after it began.

The rains meant the marquee group featuring Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy didn't tee off until 4:44 p.m. At that moment, Mickelson and Nicolas Colsaerts (69) were the only players in the clubhouse under par.

And that was counting a 102-year, par-3 13th hole that was yielding birdies one-third of the time, including one by 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, who used the hole to start a run of three consecutive birdies that included a chip-in at No. 15.

Schwartzel soon lost that cushion and shot an even-par 70. Woods 3-putted his first hole for bogey.

That hole aside, Merion was as challenging as advertised, despite the onslaught of storms that softened the course during the past week.

The slanting greens and heavy rough valued precision over power, and no one's score got below 3 under by mid-afternoon. Ian Poulter had quite the start, with only one par spaced among four birdies and three bogeys through nine holes.

At one point, there were nine players under par - four at 2 under and five at 1 under - and two of them were amateurs.

Intriguingly, Cheng-Tsung Pan of Taiwan and Kevin Phelan of Ireland didn't mimic the pros at No. 13: Both parred the hole and picked up a birdie or two elsewhere.

Sergio Garcia birdied No. 13, but that was an aberration in a terrible start for the Spaniard, who has spent the lead-up to the tournament trying to make amends with Woods.

Garcia had a quadruple bogey, double bogey and a bogey in his first five holes, but he later went birdie-eagle on the front nine on the way to a 73.

Garcia was greeted with mild applause and a few audible boos when he was introduced at the start of his round. He is playing his first tournament in the US since a recent exchange with Woods hit a low point when

Garcia said he would serve fried chicken if Woods came to dinner during the Open. Garcia has since apologized for the remark.

He shook hands with Woods on the practice range this week and left a note in Woods' locker. He was also noticeably friendly to the gallery during Wednesday's practice round, stopping several times to sign autographs.

Cliff Kresge, a Floridian ranked No. 551 in the world, hit the first tee shot of the tournament at 6:45 a.m. The horn blew at 8:36 a.m., and thunder, lightning and downpours followed, sending everyone scurrying for cover.

Safety was a concern on a course that required fans to take long shuttle rides from remote parking lots. At a fan zone, where a replay of the limited action was on a jumbo screen, a worker used a microphone to implore an overflow crowd to move to the merchandise tent.

Any major weather disruption to the championship would be a shame, given that the US Open waited 32 years to return to the course where Olin Dutra overcame a serious stomach illness to win in 1934, where Ben

Hogan hit the picture-perfect 1-iron approach to No. 18 before winning in a playoff in 1950, where Lee Trevino pulled a rubber snake out of his bag at the first hole of the playoff when he beat Jack Nicklaus for the title in 1971, and where David Graham became the first Australian to win the trophy in 1981.