Phil Mickelson's first round lead holds up

Last updated 02:56 15/06/2013

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Luke Donald, who surged into the US Open lead just as first-round play was suspended yesterday, slipped out of it after completing the difficult finishing holes at Merion Golf Club today.

Bogeys at the par-four 16th and the par-four last gave the Englishman a round of two-under-par 68, one stroke behind first-round clubhouse leader Phil Mickelson.

World number six Donald, seeking his first major title, leapfrogged Mickelson into the lead when he posted his third straight birdie of the weather-interrupted round on the par-three 13th hole to reach four under par just before play was suspended due to failing light.

Returning for a 7.15am local time start, Donald encountered different conditions and more difficult holes on a chilly morning at Merion with intermittent rain.

"A complete switch in wind and obviously a big drop in temperature," the former world number one said. "So those holes are playing long."

Donald, who once had an impressive streak of 449 successive holes in competition without a three-putt, was surprisingly undermined by his putter.

The 35-year-old Briton three-putted the 16th hole and the 18th.

"Misreads," said Donald, a winner of five PGA Tour events and seven titles on the European circuit.

"Certainly those last five holes are very, very tough."

Donald said despite softened conditions following torrential rains in the last week, the relatively short Merion layout remained a stern test.

"I think everyone thought that as soon as the course got wet it was going to play easy," said Donald. "The scores certainly aren't showing that.

"The tough holes are extremely tough. It does give you a little bit of balance with some of those shorter holes, but you really need to play those tough ones well."

Donald only had about 90 minutes to recoup after heading off to begin his second round.

"I got no choice. Grab something quick to eat, hit a few balls and get out there," he said. "I think it's good to have a good turn around, I'll still be warm."

Whatever was bothering Tiger Woods' wrist seemed to disappear overnigh as first-round play resumed.

Woods completed a round of 73, but not before pulling out his driver and putting his first tee shot of the day well right of the fairway into the high grass. Yesterday, he would wince and shake his left arm, particularly his wrist, when playing out of the rough, but there was no obvious sign of discomfort on Friday when he played his second shot at the long par-4 No 12.

There wasn't much else good about the shot, which landed in lesser rough about 100 yards from the hole. Woods then got the ball on the green, but he missed a downhill 5-foot putt and bogeyed the hole to go to 3 over.

Woods birdied the short par-3 13th, but he put his tee shot near the edge of a steep bunker at the par-3 17th and dropped another shot.

The rest of the marquee group featuring the world's top three players didn't fare much better. Masters champion Adam Scott was 3-under when darkness stopped play, but he dropped a shot at the 12th after his approach landed just short of the pin, spun backward and rolled some 75 feet to the edge of the fairway rough.

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Scott then bogeyed No 14 and put his tee shot out of bounds on the way to a double bogey at the 15th in his round of 72. Rory McIlroy, the third member of the group, found the sand at both the 15th and 18th and shot 73.

Donald held the overnight lead at 4-under through 13 holes, but he bogeyed Nos 16 and 18 to put him behind Mickelson, who had a much-needed late afternoon tee time after a whirlwind first day. Mickelson shot his 67 - his best opening round in the US Open since 1999 - on little sleep after an overnight flight from San Diego, where he attended his daughter's school graduation.

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