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.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘FUN TIME’: Denver’s Nikola Jokic said that his team would not accept that anyone else is better than them and the opposition need to play much better than they do Just about everyone had LA versus LA written in for the NBA’s Western Conference finals, but the resilient Denver Nuggets have crashed the party. Behind Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets advanced to the conference finals for the first time since 2009 to face LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Game 1 is scheduled to be played tomorrow. This was no ordinary road. The Nuggets fell behind 3-1 in their first-round series against the Utah Jazz before bouncing back with three straight victories. Then they went down 3-1 to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round before winning in Game 7
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two