Sat, Jun 14, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Extras Hicks, Streelman steal the show at US Open

AFP , SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

LPGA golfer Yani Tseng of Taiwan reads a golf magazine during the first round of the US Open championship at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, California, on Thursday.

PHOTO: AP

Cast for bit parts, Kevin Streelman and Justin Hicks thrust themselves to center stage on Thursday as the unlikely first-round leaders of the 108th US Open golf championship.

Streelman, a US PGA Tour rookie playing in his first US Open, and Hicks, a Nationwide Tour player who missed the cut in his only previous Open appearance in 2004, fired three-under-par 68s for a one-shot lead in the second major of the season.

Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 US Open champion, led a group of four players lying one adrift on two-under 69, alongside compatriot Stuart Appleby, Eric Axley and Rocco Mediate.

England’s Lee Westwood and two-time champion Ernie Els were among a group of five on one-under 70, where they were joined by Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, Australian Robert Allenby and amateur Rickie Fowler.

The day started with all eyes trained on Tiger Woods — testing his surgically repaired left knee in his first competitive round since the Masters — San Diego native son Phil Mickelson and Australian Adam Scott.

The top three in the world rankings teed off together in a marquee group that drew massive crowds around the par-71, 6,989m Torrey Pines South course.

The course is a favorite stomping ground of both Woods and Mickelson, who between them have won nine Buick Invitational titles here.

Woods, trying to add to his cache of 13 major titles despite a nearly nine-week layoff, opened with a double-bogey at the first hole and had another at 14 en route to a one-over 72.

Mickelson made the turn three-over, but coming home nabbed four birdies against one bogey for a 71. Scott, playing with a broken bone in his right hand, settled for a two-over 73.

Woods bounced back with birdies at the fourth, eighth and ninth to reach the turn at one-under, but after saving par at 12 and 13, dropped two at the par-four 14th.

He reached the green in two at the par-five 18th, but three-putted.

“I hit the ball pretty good all day, had a couple misses left, but just need to clean up the round just a little bit,” Woods said.

Mickelson, who capped his round with a birdie at the last, was pleased with even par, which put him in a group of seven players that also included England’s Luke Donald, Fiji’s Vijay Singh and Argentina’s Andres Romero.

It was a difficult day for three reigning major champions. Defending US Open champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina battled to an eight-over 79, British Open champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland carded a 78 and Masters champion Trevor Immelman settled for a four-over 75.

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