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Marquee threesome off to rough start early at U.S. Open

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Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, and Jordan Spieth already are falling well behind in the U.S. Open.

The marquee threesome of the morning was a collective 15-over par through nine holes, and then McIlroy double-bogeyed the first hole (his 10th on the round).

Through nine holes, McIlroy was seven-over while Spieth and Mickelson both were four-over.

In comparison, the early leaders were at two-under.

Spieth actually played well except for messing up the par-three 11th, considered one of the toughest holes at Shinnecock Hills.

His pitch shot onto the green sat on a crest and as Spieth hustled up to mark it, the ball rolled back down to where he shot it.

He wound up with a triple-bogey six.

But he played even par for the rest of his opening nine, then bogeyed the first.

Scott Piercy, who got into the U.S. Open as an alternate from Tennessee qualifying, is making the most of his chance early in the tournament.

Piercy was one-under through 14 holes, offsetting bogeys at Nos. 2 and 11 with birdies on the 10th and 12th holes.

He was playing in the first group to tee off.

Piercy, in his 10th season on the PGA Tour, has four career victories, including winning the team event with Billy Horschel in New Orleans this spring.

He tied for second in the 2016 U.S. Open.

Meanwhile, three veteran golfers chasing their first major victory got off to strong starts at the U.S. Open this morning.

Matt Kuchar, who has been close in major events several times in his 18 years as a professional, birdied the first and fifth holes.

Ian Poulter, whose best U.S. Open finish is 12th in 2006, birdied the fourth and seventh holes to join Kuchar at two-under.

The Englishman has been a pro since 1994.

The 41-year-old Charley Hoffman finished eighth in last year's tournament and was 12th at this season's Masters.

He started on the back nine and birdied Nos. 10 and 13.

But Masters champ Patrick Reed got off to an up-and-down start to his first round of the U.S. Open.

Reed, who won his first major title in April, started on the back nine and birdied the 10th and 11th holes.

He immediately followed with a bogy, then had another bogey at No. 14 to stand at even par.

His playing partners, Zach Johnson and Charl Schwartzel, both major winners, weren't doing quite so well.

Johnson was at two-over while Schwartzel was three-over.

The thrill of playing in the U.S. Open was gone quickly for Scott Gregory.

Shinnecock Hills made sure of that.

The 23-year-old Englishman was among the first to finish his opening round, and he probably couldn't get away from the course quick enough.

Gregory shot 92—20 over par—with only three pars in the round.

The worst hole for the new pro (the 2016 British Amateur champ missed the cut in last year's U.S. Open while still an amateur) was the par-five fifth.

Although the fifth was playing easier than any other hole in the first round, Gregory had a seven there.

In one stretch, Gregory double-bogeyed three-straight holes.

He perhaps could take some solace in the fact that only two players were under par when he finished.

While most of Shinnecock Hills was brutal early in the first round of the U.S. Open, the par-five fifth has brought plenty of red numbers so far.

That includes eagles by Matt Fitzpatrick of England and Calum Hill of Scotland, who conquered the 589-yard hole with threes.

There were 20 birdies and 26 pars in morning rounds at the hole.

Two of the early leaders—Kuchar and Scott Piercy—both birdied the fifth.

But, as Shinnecock Hills often does, the course bit back at two players.

Amateur Doug Ghim scored a seven on the fifth, as did Gregory.

Harold Varner hit the opening tee shot on a gorgeous morning at Shinnecock Hills, using a fairway metal to hit a fairway that was some 60 yards wide in the landing zone.

He still watched it anxiously—only because a marshal unaware the U.S. Open had started ambled across the fairway, and broke into a sprint when he heard the ball land near him.

The fairways are 15 yards wider on average than the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock.

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