Brooks Koepka looks over the 11th green during the first round of the US Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Photo: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Koepka looks over the 11th green during the first round of the US Open golf tournament at Torrey Pines Golf Course. Photo: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Brooks Koepka shares early US Open lead, Phil Mickelson struggles

By Reuters Time of article published Jun 17, 2021

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SAN DIEGO – Twice champion Brooks Koepka held a share of the early US Open lead midway through his first round on Thursday while Phil Mickelson's latest bid to complete the career Grand Slam got off to a rough start.

The start of play was delayed by 90 minutes as players who arrived at Torrey Pines for the early tee times were greeted by a blanket of fog that covered the par-71 South course, which sits atop the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

With sunset at roughly 8:00 p.m. PT (0300 GMT) in San Diego, the delayed start to year's penultimate major all but guaranteed that the first round would not be completed on Thursday.

Four-times major winner Koepka, who finished runner-up at last month's PGA Championship and missed the cut in his only U.S. Open tune-up, started on the back nine and made three birdies to reach the turn in three-under-par 33.

That left world number 10 Koepka in a share of the early lead with three-times PGA Tour winner Russell Henley, who started on the front nine and mixed four birdies with a bogey through 10 holes.

PGA Championship winner Mickelson, playing a day after his 51st birthday and a month after becoming golf's oldest major winner, was two over after eight holes after mixing three bogeys with a birdie.

That left Mickelson, a record six-times U.S. Open runner-up, in a share of 52nd place and five shots behind the leaders.

Mickelson, who grew up playing city-owned Torrey Pines, started his day at the par-four 10th where he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker and made bogey.

The left-hander took a penalty stroke at the par-five 13th after his approach shot settled in a bush near the green. His next shot hit the flag stick and ricocheted back into the rough from where he got up and down for bogey.

Mickelson dropped another stroke at the par-four 15th where he struggled with the thick rough lining the narrow fairways but got a stroke back at the par-four 17th where he drained a nine-foot birdie putt.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau went out late in a group with Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and 2020 U.S. Amateur champion Tyler Strafaci.

Also among the late starters is a high-profile group featuring world number one Dustin Johnson, Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy and Englishman Justin Rose.

Reuters

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