Trio Share Top Spot at Shinnecock


SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- The first round of the 104th U.S. Open Championship was completed Friday morning after afternoon thunderstorms led to the suspension of play on Thursday.
Angel Cabrera stood at 4-under par when play was halted and returned to Shinnecock Hills Golf Club early Friday to finish his opening round.
While Jay Haas and Shigeki Maruyama each grabbed a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday with matching rounds of 66 before the weather conditions deteriorated, Cabrera ran off four birdies over his first nine holes to join them atop the leaderboard. Upon his return to the course, Cabrera picked up a birdie at the par-4 14th to break free at minus-5.
The Argentine found trouble with a double bogey at the very next hole, however. After fighting back to birdie the par-5 16th, he parred his final two holes to join Haas and Maruyama in a tie for the first-round lead.
Phil Mickelson, who earned his first major title in April at the Masters, also had to come back to Shinnecock Friday morning to finish off his opening round. Mickelson had birdied the par-5 fifth before calling it a night on Thursday, and stumbled to a bogey at the tough par-3 seventh when he returned.
The left-hander responded with a birdie at the very next hole en route to a round of 68.
Haas made his U.S. Open debut in 1974 at Winged Foot. He competed at Shinnecock and missed the cut in 1986, but made an impressive return in 1995 with a tie for fourth. Now, back on the eastern tip of Long Island in 2004 and already on his way to the Champions Tour, this might prove to be his best effort yet.
'People asked me if this is the best I've played,' said Haas, a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour whose last title came at the 1993 Texas Open. 'I'm hitting the ball longer than I ever have. I feel more confident with my putting, my chipping, my short game is better because of my putting, I believe. But until I win, I won't say it's the best I've played.'
Haas got off to a quick start on the opening hole and hit a sand wedge to 3 feet for a birdie. He stumbled to a bogey at the second, but recovered at the par-4 fourth after his approach stopped within 5 feet of the cup.
The 50-year-old added a birdie at the fifth and ran home a 12-foot putt for a birdie at the par-3 11th. At the par-3 17th, Haas held the green, but had a lengthy effort left for birdie. He drained the long putt to reach 4 under and match Maruyama in the lead.
Haas cited the records of the past champions at Shinnecock, his playing partner Ray Floyd, who won in 1986, and Corey Pavin, who titled in 1995, as examples of the type of game needed to find success at Shinnecock.
'You look at the two winners, Corey and Raymond, wonderful shot makers and wonderful short games, and I think that - not that I put myself in that category, but I think it allows most everyone here, length-wide, to be in the hunt,' said Haas, who also shot a 66 in the second round of the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills.
Maruyama had his best U.S. Open finish two years ago at Bethpage. After missing the cut last year at Olympia Fields, Maruyama returned to New York and found it to his liking.
'I just can't explain how happy,' said Maruyama. 'I'm very happy.'
Maruyama shared the stage with Tiger Woods in the opening round and was flawless with a birdie at the fifth and back-to-back birdies from the 10th.
At the par-5 16th, Maruyama chipped his third shot to 10 feet and converted for birdie to take the lead at 4 under. He parred his way in to join Haas in the early lead.
'I'm just trying to make a cut now, and I don't have much experience in that position in a major tournament,' said Maruyama, who is making his fourth U.S. Open appearance. 'I'll try to play my golf the rest of the three days, see how my golf works in a major.'
While there were plenty of birdies early on at Shinnecock, not everyone was able to escape the difficulty of the layout. Woods, who played along with Maruyama and Chad Campbell, tallied a birdie at the fifth, but gave that shot back with a bogey at the unforgiving par-3 seventh.
At the ninth, Woods left his second shot well short of the green in a mess of long grass. He flopped his third shot to 10 feet, but was unable to save par. Woods missed the green again at the par-3 11th, but this time the 28-year- old was able to get up and down.
Woods could not find the fairway off the tee at the 14th and sent his approach from the rough into a greenside bunker en route to another bogey. Woods was in trouble again at the very next hole, but hit a remarkable shot from just off the green to three feet and was able to save par.
The two-time U.S. Open champion then played his third shot to 7 feet at the par-5 16th, but failed to make birdie on his way to a first-round 72.
'There's an awful long way to go,' said Woods, who withdrew as an amateur in the first round of 1995 Open at Shinnecock after injuring his wrist. 'We haven't seen the wind up yet. If that ever happens, if it ever comes up, this golf course is pretty tough.'
So far in the early goings Friday, the wind was starting to make its presence known.
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