Australians start well at Merion

At 8.19pm play was halted for the third and final time on day one of the US Open at the Merion Golf Club in Philadelphia, darkness bringing play to a close with just over half of the field still to complete round one.

Earlier in the day play was delayed for over three hours when storms hit the area and players walked from the course at 8.30am, returning at 12.00 noon only to be halted again at 6.10pm for 45 minutes or so.

Another one hour and twenty minutes of play was possible before darkness set in.

At that point Luke Donald led at 4 under while two players, including Phil Mickelson who was one of the lucky ones to complete their opening rounds, while Adam Scott, who had just birdied the 11th to move to 3 under, was tied with Scott for second postion.

Play will resume at 7.15am on Friday morning.

For Mickelson it was a simply amazing effort given that he had flown back to California the previous day to attend his daughter's 8th Grade graduation and headed back to Philadelphia arriving in the early hours of the morning.

Mickelson had an 7.11am tee time and so there was little time for rest although playing just six holes before the first disruption he was able to get a little rest in the first three and a half hour delay.

"It was good," said Mickelson. "I loved having an early tee time. I wish we didn't have the rain delay because it made for a little bit longer day, but the golf course is playing about as easy as it could and yet Merion is really fighting hard. We were having a hard time scoring low here. It's so demanding. It's such a great track. It's one of the best I've seen for a U.S. Open. And we had soft conditions and still we're all having a hard time getting under par."

On his rushed trip to California Mickelson said, "Four kids spoke and she was one that was chosen. Really proud of her. She did a great job and she even quoted Ron Burgundy, so it was funny. And I was really glad I was there. Ceremony was at 6:00. I got on the plain at 8:00, landed 3:30. Had a few hours sleep. We had a rain delay here, so I went and slept for an hour. I feel great."

"So this is not that out of the ordinary; I do this about six, ten times a year where I fly back east red eye, play some outing and then come home. So it's not out of the ordinary."

Donald birdied three consecutive holes before he finished play at the 13th while for Scott he made a very timely 15 footer for birdie at the 11th before he and playing partners, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlory, walked in.

All things considered and given the anticipated horrors storms, conditions were perfect for scoring but it took a long while before players were able to break the stranglehold the timeless Merion had on them. Many players were under par early only to be hauled in by the great balance of tough holes and birdie opportunities.

When play was finally called 15 players were under par although importantly only two of them (Mickelson and Nicolas Colsaerts) had finished their rounds.

So it is the five time runner up Mickelson, the former world number one and the current world number three and current Masters Champion Scott who lead by one over defending champion Webb Simpson and Australians Mathew Goggin and Alistair Presnell.

Goggin and Presnell gained their starts through Sectional Qualifying ten days ago and both are making a great fist of the opportunity they created for themselves.

Presnell played the opening two rounds of the US Open well when on debut in the event last year and again he has shown that the big stage is holding no real fears. He has recorded three birdies and a bogey in his opening six holes while his playing partner and fellow countryman Goggin has two birdies in those same holes.

Goggin was philosophical about the disrupted nature of play. "It happens all the time if you play enough," he said. "It's probably harder for the kids, the amateurs, and those sort of guys that haven't played on TOUR for a long time. But we deal with these sort of things all the way from now until the end of summer. So not a big deal."

Jason Day, with a completed opening round of 70 is at even par and in 16th position while John Senden has played 11 holes, a bogey at his final hole of the day having him at even par also.

Day birdied his final two holes for a solid start and explained after his round why given the benign conditions that Merion was still having her say." It's difficult. It's very tough. People don't understand how much, there's like subtle slopes on the greens. So if you leave yourself a 10 footer, they're not very easy 10 foot putts to make.

"And it's the U.S. Open. It's not that easy. I don't think I think everyone's saying that it was, that they were going to rip it up because of how easy the course conditions were playing. It's not as easy as everyone thinks. And plus you add a U.S. Open, the U.S. Open name and the trophy, there's a lot of pressure there as well to get out and play well."

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