Rose rides hot putter to U.S. Open lead

Graeme Mc Dowell drives off the 18th tee at Pebble Beach on Tuesday

The only other Kiwi in the field - amateur Daniel Hillier - tees off in his first major at 9.30am, about half an hour after three-times US Open champion Tiger Woods.

The five-time major victor was unable to take advantage of near ideal scoring conditions as he plodded his way to a one-over 72, sit six back of the early leaders. "The back nine, the way I executed there was similar to today, except today was all 18 holes", he said. 10/14 fairways, 9/18 greens.

Englishman Hatton, who recorded his best finish at a US Open when he finished joint sixth past year, climbed to four under par without dropping a shot in his first 15 holes, but finished with three successive bogeys.

While Koepka stumbled to the finish Woods held steady, limiting the damage from an early double-bogey by hitting back with two birdies and closing with 11 straight pars for a one-under 70.

"A bad tee shot". "I would never in my wildest dreams have thought that I'd still be playing and he'd be playing with me at a U.S. Open", said Els, who shot 75. "If you're not going to hit greens, it's going to be tough", the 29-year-old said.

With the score, Tiger sits just five shots out of the lead heading into the second round. "And a simple little pitch shot, if I leave it 10 feet below the hole, easy shot, move on with the bogey".

Regulation pars followed at the 11th and 12th before he made a 14-footer up the hill for birdie at the 447-yard 13th to get to within two shots of the Spaniard, who would eventually settle for a 69 that left him tied with Marc Leishman, Spaniard Adri Arnaus and 2014 victor Martin Kaymer.

"Merion came down to one shot at the right time, " Rose said.

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He didn't have great chances at the 15th or 16th holes, missed the green short again at 17, and then was in a bunker at 18 and couldn't get it up and down and made par.

Rory Sabbatini just couldn't wait for his eagle on No. 12, so he went ahead and holed it in one after two bounces.

By mid-afternoon he was barely cracking the top 20 in Strokes Gained Off the Tee, a category in which he is a dominant No. 1 on the PGA Tour.

So what does the USGA, which has been heavily criticized for its over-challenging and perhaps unfair setups, do after its leaderboard at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach was littered with red after Thursday's opening round?

"It's a battle if you're not going to hit fairways", he said. In fact, he was over par in the first round of each of the previous seven U.S. Opens. "He struggled for a little bit, fought it off and what an incredible finish".

World number one Koepka tees off at 21:47 BST, with 2019 Masters victor Woods out alongside fellow former champions Jordan Spieth and England's Justin Rose at 22:09.

Koepka can also become the first player since Willie Anderson to win three consecutive U.S. Opens.

Phil Mickelson, who is seeking his first U.S. Open victory in his 28th start to complete the career grand slam, didn't open the way he wanted. Woods is in a tie for 28th.

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