Thursday's Birdies and Bogeys

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Thursday's Birdies and Bogeys

June 12, 2013

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Phil MickelsonNo sleep? No problem! Proving that Mickelson seeks extra motivation even on weeks like this, he seemed to thrive on the challenge presented by his cross-country dash to see his daughter's eighth grade graduation. Although he missed vital practice time on Tuesday and Wednesday and had to take a red-eye on Wednesday night just to make his starting time, Phil was unfazed. After three-putting his first hole of the day, he was practically flawless the rest of the way, with his opening 67 his lowest opening round in an Open since 1999.

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Bogey: Sergio GarciaThe man behind a recent bad fried chicken joke arrived at Merion in a cloud of bad press. He certainly gave those rabid Philly fans rooting against him plenty to cheer about. Garcia hit tee shots out-of-bounds on back-to-back holes, the second leading to a quadruple bogey on the 15th hole. To his credit, he handled the brutal start -- and the heckling -- fairly well to finish with a 73.

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Birdie: Merion Golf ClubThis year's course has faced perhaps as much scrutiny as any U.S. Open venue. Many worried Merion -- checking in at less than 7,000 yards -- would be made obsolete by today's equipment. Not so fast. Even with extremely soft conditions, the Hugh Wilson design held up fine during a storm-shortened Thursday, with Mickelson's 67 the low completed round. With hopefully drier conditions to come, don't expect anyone to tear this course up.

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Bogey: RainSure, it's been a successful return to one of golf's storied venues, but the weather hasn't helped. Packed into just 111 acres, Merion was already going to be a tight walk for spectators, but the influx of rain has muddied the grounds enough to ruin scores of shoes. Then there's the fact that the USGA hasn't been able to get the golf course to play nearly as firm and fast as it had hoped -- even if players are still having their share of fits. Oh yeah, and there were those two delays totalling more than four hours.

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Birdie: Luke DonaldThe former world No. 1 has had little success to speak of, often backdooring his way into high finishes. And he's had NO success in the U.S. Open, without a top 10 to his name. At least at Merion a player who has had an unspectacular 2013 got off to an encouraging start. The good news is he's atop the leader board at four under through 13 holes of his first round. The bad news is darkness set in at the worst possible time, with Donald riding a string of three-straight birdies.

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Birdie: Adam ScottWhat Augusta hangover? OK, so maybe it's not a big enough sample size yet, but if Scott's first 11 holes are any indication, he isn't content to make the Masters his only major mark on the season. Just a shot off the lead after Thursday, Scott's start at Merion suggests his breakthrough win only whetted his appetite.

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Bogey: Tiger WoodsThe world No. 1 has four PGA Tour wins already this year, but anything other than a victory this week will be a huge disappointment to him. And if his short game doesn't improve quickly, he won't end his five-year drought in majors at Merion. In 10 sloppy holes, Woods had two three-putts and two of the worst chips he's ever hit. But perhaps an even bigger concern? That left wrist he was seen shaking in pain several times on shots from the rough. And then there's that pesky four-footer for par he'll face when he resumes play on Friday morning. . .

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Birdie: Rory McIlroyRory McIlroy: As uneven a season as it's been for the world No. 2, McIlroy's ball-striking hasn't been the problem. And seeing how his first two major titles were also on venues softened by rain, it's fair to say McIlroy is at his best when he can land the ball precisely where he aims it. Combine that with some growing confidence in his putter -- including a crucial five-footer for par immediately after the afternoon rain delay -- and McIlroy could be finding his form at just the right time.

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Birdie: The Par-3 13thMerion's collection of three long threes -- measuring 236, 246 and 256 yards, respectively, from their tips -- received a lot of pre-tournament attention. The fourth, though, the 115-yard 13th, is certainly the players' favorite this week. In the first round, it played at just 102 yards with a hole cut on the front that players spun sand wedges to kick-in range all day, providing a nice respite before Merion's tough closing stretch of holes. Who says the USGA can't have fun?

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Bogey: Matt KucharBased on three big wins in the last year and a game that seems to be custom-fit for major championships, Kuchar was a fashionable pick heading into Merion. If only Merion cooperated. Struggling both off the tee and on the greens, Kuchar opened with a 74, leaving arguably the best player without a major likely to have to wait a little longer.

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Birdie: Nicolas ColsaertsWho says Merion isn't for long hitters? With a 69, the Belgian bomber outplayed fellow driving all-stars Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson, who both shot 71. Colsaerts made two quick birdies before the weather delay and took advantage of two of the course's shorter par 4s, Nos. 7 and 8, late in his round to finish in red numbers. The Ryder Cupper also contended at last year's U.S. Open at Olympic before a final-round 76.

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