BETHESDA, Md. – Rory McIlroy didn’t reach the major magic number. But the bogey-free 65 the young Northern Irishman shot was good enough for a three-stroke lead after the first round of the U.S. Open.
As McIlroy parred his final three holes in pursuit of the elusive 63, the rain returned to Congressional. But it wasn’t enough to dampen the solid start that gave McIlroy his fourth first-round lead on the PGA TOUR – and second straight at a major championship.
McIlroy’s three-stroke advantage is the largest after the first round of the U.S. Open since 1976 when Mike Reid, then an amateur, led four players by the same margin.
Minutes after McIlroy polished off that 65, Sergio Garcia had a chance to tie Y.E. Yang for second. But the Spaniard three-putted from the front of the 18th green and dropped back into a tie for fourth at 2 under.
Charl Schwartzel, the reigning Masters champion, ended up tied with Yang at 68. The group of six shooting 69s included Schwarzel’s good friend Louis Oosthuizen, American Ryan Palmer, Brazil’s Alex Rocha, Kyung-tae Kim of Korea, Australia’s Scott Hend and Garcia.
McIlroy’s playing partners didn’t fare as well as he did. Phil Mickelson only hit five fairways and eight greens in his round of 74 while Dustin Johnson had a 75.