Mickelson struggles from the start again14/06/2012 - 19:29:03
Phil Mickelson struggled from the off for a second straight year at the US Open as his opening drive was lost high up in the branches of a tree.
Mickelson, five times a runner-up in his national championship, began by losing a ball in the water last year, and his hopes of winning a US Open title took another early hit as he was made to make the long walk back to the tee.
The Olympic Club in San Francisco is tough enough without that happening and, although he made birdie with his second ball, the left-hander started with three successive bogeys and was soon four over par.
Mickelson was playing with Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson and while Woods, winner of the Memorial Tournament two weeks ago, impressed with his ball-striking again to be level par after 12 holes Masters champion Watson was another really struggling.
His second shot from the rough moved only a few yards and by the time he double-bogeyed the 344-yard 18th – his 10th of the day – he was already five over and eight behind the early leader, fellow American Jason Bohn.
Another dropped shot followed for Watson on the 428-yard second – Woods missed a birdie chance from under four feet there – but he was still not in last place.
That position sadly was occupied by China’s 14-year-old Andy Zhang, the youngest player ever to appear in the championship.
Originally the fifth reserve after losing a play-off in qualifying, Zhang was called into the event late on Monday when England’s Paul Casey pulled out with his shoulder injury.
He lost a ball with his second shot, triple-bogeyed the 520-yard first – third longest par four in US Open history – double-bogeyed the next and after eight holes was eight over.
Three-time champion Woods, unable to add to his 14 majors since the 2008 US Open, gave himself a string of early chances and must have been kicking himself when he bogeyed the 419-yard 14th.
That was the first time he was in the deep rough, but after leaving his chip 10 feet short and missing he came back with a two-putt birdie on the long 17th.
Bohn, twice a winner on the PGA Tour and with a round of 58 to his name on the Canadian circuit, birdied the first, seventh and 11th in a dream start to only his second US Open.
That put him one ahead of another qualifier, Michael Thompson, and Spain’s Dubai Desert Classic winner Rafael Cabrera-Bello.
Scot Marc Warren – playing in his first major at the age of 31 – kicked off with a birdie on the 449-yard ninth and remained part of the group on one under after seven holes.
Dubliner Padraig Harrington was alongside him, but then ran up a double bogey seven at the monstrous 670-yard 16th, the longest hole in major history.
Harrington did hit straight back with his third birdie of the day, however, and at level par was on the same mark as not only Woods, but also England’s Robert Rock.
Defending champion Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood were among the later starters, with organisers having decided to put the world’s top three in the same group for the second year running.
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