Phil Mickelson recovered from an opening-hole bogey with a pair of birdies… (Scott Halleran / Getty Images )
Buckle up, because it could be a rollerc-oaster ride at the U.S. Open.
Just ask Lee Westwood.
Hitting a wedge into the 12th green, Westwood watched his shot hit the “wicker” atop the flagstick. If there had been a flag there, the ball might have dropped straight down. But woven fiber isn’t so forgiving.
The ball rebounded way off the green. Westwood, who had moved into a tie for the lead at three-under, finished with hole with a double bogey.
The field has also dealt with weather delays in the morning and afternoon at Merion Golf Club. Phil Mickelson reached the clubhouse early at three-under, leaving a pack of competitors to pursue him at one and two shots back. The hunters included Adam Scott, Luke Donald, Webb Simpson and Rory McIlroy.
Tiger Woods stood at two-over with indications that he might have hurt his left arm hitting out of the rough in the early going.
Players are finding that Merion offers scoring opportunities mixed with holes that can wreck a good round. Ian Poulter finished at one-over with five birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey.
“I always knew this golf course was going to throw birdies at you, and I always knew this golf course was going to throw some bogeys,” he said. “And it’s fun in a kind of up-and-down way.”
USGA officials suspended play for darkness at about 8:20 p.m. EDT, giving players the options of finishing the holes they were on.
Tiger Woods struggles at start of his round | 3:50 p.m.
Mother Nature might have shown some sympathy for Tiger Woods at the U.S. Open.
Hitting out of the rough on the fifth hole, Woods grimaced, looking as if he might have hurt his left arm or wrist. Minutes later, with “dangerous weather” heading into the Ardmore, Pa. area, officials decided to suspend play in the first round.
Earlier, rain forced a three-plus-hour delay at Merion Golf Club.
When horns blew for the second time, players were told to wait at the course, with officials hoping to resume play in about 10 minutes.
USGA officials continued to watch the weather radar -- all those ominous green and yellow splotches drifting across eastern Pennsylvania -- in hopes that play could resume.
Somewhere in the meteorological disturbances there were, apparently, encouraging signs and the tournament was expected to continue at 7 p.m. EDT.
Phil Mickelson and Peter Hedblom stand atop the leaderboard at three-under. Woods was in danger of falling to two-over.
Marquee pairing of Woods, McIlroy and Scott tees off | 3:15 p.m.
Fans had to wait a little longer for their big moment at the U.S. Open on Thursday.
The 1-2-3 pairing of Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott got pushed back by rain delays and the group did not tee off until almost dinnertime at Merion Golf Club.
USGA officials have some history with lumping the world’s top-ranked players into one group for the first and second rounds. Scott was impressed enough to modestly refer to himself as the “third wheel” and McIlroy voiced his appreciation.
“It's always nice to be a part of a group like that,” he said. “There's a lot of buzz and a lot of atmosphere around it and it gets you to focus from the first shot.”
Or maybe not.
The top guy did not exactly get off to a sizzling start. Woods looked shaky off the tee and barely missed a couple of salvage putts on Merion’s tricky greens, going one-over through the first four holes.
McIlroy fared better, making birdie on No. 4 to go one-under.
As for that third wheel? Scott nailed his tee shot on No. 3 and made a double-breaker putt, then birdied No. 4 to put his name on the leaderboard at two-under.
“I think this year obviously there's a lot of focus on Tiger and Rory,” he said. “I know what to expect out there."
Sergio Garcia jeered in wake of remarks about Tiger Woods | 2:15 p.m.
It’s Philly, so what did you expect?
Sergio Garcia heard a few boos and some heckling during the first round of the U.S. Open in Ardmore, Pa. No big surprise considering the reputation of fans in that part of the world.
Garcia came into the tournament as a controversial figure after feuding with Tiger Woods over the last month and, at one point, uttered a racially insensitive remark about inviting Woods to a dinner of “fried chicken.” Many fans chose to forgive, giving him warm applause, but a few did not.
Angry words weren’t Garcia’s only problem at Merion Golf Club. A double bogey on No. 14 and a quadruple bogey on No. 15 dropped him to seven-over. It took a subsequent eagle to help him finish at four-over.
As for Woods, he got off to a late start thanks to a rain delay of more than three hours.
Teeing off just before 5 p.m., he played in the marquee group of the day with Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott. A leaky drive landed him in the deep stuff and his par attempt on the first green slipped past the cup for a bogey.