Importance of 1st after Round 1


PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Not that today doesn’t matter, but Tiger Woods is the last player to lead a U.S. Open after 18 holes and go on to win. It happened in 2000, yes, but Woods did it again in 2002, when he opened with a 3-under 67 at Bethpage and finished on the same number to beat Phil Mickelson by three.

Strangely enough, 2002 marked the sixth consecutive year that a first-round leader either claimed the U.S. Open title or contended to the end. In the seven gatherings since, Colin Montgomerie came the closest to winning – Monty made a mess of Winged Foot’s 18th in 2006 and finished T-2 with Phil Mickelson, who had his own problems on the same hole one group later.

Other notables atop recent 18-hole leaderboards:

- Mickelson, who held a share in 1999 and lost at the buzzer to Payne Stewart.
- Stewart, who led alone a year earlier, then stumbled on Sunday, clearing the way for Lee Janzen.
- Montgomerie, who set the early pace in ’97 and factored until the finish. Monty came unglued Sunday at Congressional’s par-3 17th, when he allowed crowd commotion to get in his head before he missing a four-footer for par.