Friday, 19 March 2010
Miguel Angel Jimenez got off to a flying start to head the early European Tour challenge in the 100th US Open Championship at Pebble Beach, his opening 66 leaving him just one shot adrift of the pace set by World Number One Tiger Woods.

Nick Faldo was also charging up the leaderboard until play was suspended for the day with thick fog rolling off the Pacific. The six times major champion was four under par after 13 holes but will have to resume, along with 74 others including Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke, at 6.45am on Friday to complete his first round.

Faldo, with sports psychologist Kjell Enhager caddieing for him, sank a bunker shot at the third for birdie and a 50-foot putt for eagle at the long sixth en route to an outward 33. He then birdied the next two holes from seven and four feet.

Jimenez, playing his third US Open, birdied five of the first seven holes and throughout the round remained right on the heels of Woods. A birdie on the final hole when he got up and down from the left hand bunker, gave the Spaniard a perfect start in his first outing to Pebble Beach.

Woods, who edged Jimenez into second after a play-off for the WGC – American Express Championship last November, took full advantage of calm early conditions to reach the turn in 33 and then, as a strong wind picked up fired further birdies at the 10th, 13th, 14th and par five last for a six under par 65.

Woods, playing the 100th tournament of his professional career on the California course where he won the AT&T Pro-am in February, threw down the gauntlet as well by keeping a bogey off his card.

Of the other European Tour Members Angel Cabrera, making his debut in the US Open, shot a 69, Thomas Bjorn and Jose Maria Olazabal both came in with one-under-par 70s. Michael Campbell shot a level par 71, Bob May a 72 and Garcia, dressed in plus fours as a tribute to the late Payne Stewart, opened with a 75. Jean Van de Velde shot a 76 and Jesper Parnevik, paired with Woods, finished strongly for a 73. Padraig Harrington also opened his account with a 73. South Africa's Retief Goosen struggled to a 77.

Lee Westwood would have been in close touch but for four-putting the short fifth from only 20 feet. It cost him a double bogey five, but he battled back for a level par 71.

It was first time he had not been over par after 18 holes of the event and he said: "I played and putted OK overall - I can't complain and I am certainly hitting it well enough to win."

Of the four-putt he said: "The first had three feet of break in it and I hit it through the break four feet past. Then I hit that five feet past and missed that as well. Everybody says that silly things happen in a US Open and you just have to accept it and put it behind you."

Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke were among the later starters - and teed off 30 minutes later than expected because of a hold-up on the fifth tee. Montgomerie was level par after seven when the suspension came and Clarke - who bogeyed the first and double-bogeyed the third - had recovered to two over by the turn.

Ernie Els, twice a US Open champion, was one under through ten holes, Greg Norman, playing with Montgomerie was level with Bernhard Langer a further shot back after six holes. Jarmo Sandelin was also out on the course at two over through eight holes.

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