BETHESDA, Md. – For half of the 111th U.S. Open field, it loomed like a storm cloud on major championship Thursday, 218 yards of watery uneasiness waited. For those teeing off first on Congressional’s par-3 10th it was the ultimate pass/fail test on the first day of school.
Most struggled on the 10th, which defending champion Graeme McDowell called “unfair,” like Phil Mickelson who dropped his first effort into the pond and signed for a double bogey-5. Others found the going considerably easier, like world No. 1 Luke Donald who opened with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 10 and 11, the sixth- and first-hardest ranked holes, respectively, on Thursday.
Y.E. Yang went one step further, roping his 5-iron hybrid high into the morning air, knocking it close and rolling in his birdie. It was the start of a beautiful trend. The South Korean would go on to birdie all three of Congressional’s par 3s, a first for Yang.
“Hopefully it's a sign that I'll be playing quite well on those short holes,” said Yang, who trails Rory McIlroy by three storkes. “I think that conservative approach and just trying to hit the greens has been helpful.”