'Golf is so strange,' Hedblom said after a 4-under 66.
This is only the second time the Open has come to the fabled Donald Ross design, although it already has proven to be a tough place to go low. Six years ago, four players shot 67 in the first round, and no one did better than 69 the rest of the week. Olin Browne and Rocco Mediate each had a 67 in the first round Thursday.
Stranger yet for Hedblom, a 35-year-old from Sweden, was that he was trying to play it safe.
'I just got the shots in there somehow,' he said. 'I was trying to hit the middle of the green, and then I'd pull it and hit it pretty close.'
It started with a wedge into 6 feet on the opening hole, where the flag was to cut over to the left side of the green. He also had some luck with the putter, making a 40-footer on the par-4 eighth, and another putt from about that length on the par-5 10th.
The 66 assured he would be around for the weekend, even after opening with a 77.
'It's been my dream since I was a little kid to play in the U.S. Open,' he said. 'I'm just happy to play the U.S. Open. I'm never going to give in. I'm just going to try to the bitter end.'
Hedblom was thankful to just get started.
He arrived Saturday night, but his golf clubs didn't. That actually might have served him well, because he walked Pinehurst No. 2 with only a putter and a wedge on Sunday, and Pinehurst is all about the short game, anyway. All he did Monday was walk from the locker room to the range, hopeful his clubs would arrive.
Hedblom finally got them on Tuesday, about an hour before he scheduled himself for a practice round.
'It wasn't the best preparation,' he said.
He has no complaints with how it has worked out so far, even if he has no explanation.
'You come up here some weeks and everything is perfect. You feel good and you shoot 75,' Hedblom said. 'And then today, I didn't feel that good. I was just trying to hit the easiest shot to get it on the green, and that worked today.'
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