US Open
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Tiger takes first day lead with 65

Tiger Woods intimidates the field

Jimenez in contention after fine 66

John Daly says goodbye to the US Open
Faldo shows good form at 4 under par
Bobby Clampett has dream round of 68
100th US Open gets underway

100th US Open gets underway

A day after breaking down in tears at a poignant ceremony for the late Payne Stewart, Sergio Garcia wore navy plus fours in Stewart's honor Thursday in the first round of the U.S. Open.

Stewart, whose plus fours were a personal trademark, died in a plane crash four months after winning the 1999 Open. His absence has left a huge emotional void at the 100th Open, which opened on a sunny, serene day along the Pacific coast.

Early starters were taking advantage of the calm conditions. Hal Sutton opened with an eagle and birdie, and John Huston reached the turn at 2-under 33. Bob May was a stroke behind, also through nine.

While the weather was close to ideal, nature was finding other ways of making life difficult for the golfers.

The death of a huge tree prompted officials to change the second hole on the Pebble Beach course from a par 5 to a par 4, and many golfers stumbled on that hole in early play.

There were 15 bogeys, a double-bogey and just two birdies among the first 24 golfers to play the second.

An exception was Sutton, who had an eagle 2 on the 381-yard first before a birdie at the second.

On the eve of the Open, some 40 of Stewart's peers splashed balls into the ocean in a golfing version of a 21-gun salute.

Stewart's widow, Tracey, choked back tears while addressing the players and thousands of fans who attended the morning tribute on the 18th green.

Paul Azinger, one of Stewart's closest friends, paused several times to compose himself.

``If golf was art, then Payne was the color,'' Azinger said. ``The challenge is not to forget Payne, and not just Payne the golfer, but Payne the person.''

At an Open marking Jack Nicklaus' farewell to a tournament he has won four times, a constant stream of visitors lingered at a glass case memorializing the defending champion.

At a spot called Payne's Place in the middle of the U.S. Open village, fans paraded past a display honoring Stewart's dramatic win in the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, N.C.

The display holds the outfit Stewart wore on the final day of that tournament, which he won by sinking a 15-foot putt on the 18th hole, as well as his gloves and final ball - both of which he signed.

In addition to memories of Stewart, there is plenty of emotion at this centennial U.S. Open. Fans are pulling for Nicklaus, the only player to win an Open (1972) and a U.S. Amateur title (1961) at Pebble Beach.

This is Nicklaus' 44th U.S. Open.

And there's sure to be plenty of drama on a course that has produced some unforgettable U.S. Open memories - such as a final-round duel between Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer in 1972, or Tom Watson's decisive birdie on the 17th on a pitch out of the rough in 1982.

Even though nine former champions are in the field, the overwhelming favorite is Tiger Woods - who has been playing at Pebble Beach since he was 13, and already has made his mark on the photogenic spot along the craggy Pacific coastline.

Four months ago, in a National Pro-Am that finished a day late because of awful weather, Woods rallied from a 7-shot deficit with seven holes to play. He made three birdies and an eagle from the fairway in those seven holes, and won by two strokes.

It was his sixth straight PGA Tour victory, the longest streak in more than 50 years, and continued a stretch he carries into the U.S. Open - in his last 25 tournaments around the world, Woods has finished out of the top 10 only twice.

In fact, Woods has won 11 of his last 20 tour events.

The course has changed since the last Open, with a newly redesigned par-3 fifth hole and a par of 71 after the second hole was trimmed to a par-4.

What hadn't changed was the romance of one of the world's great courses.

``The golf course has always had a special place in my heart,'' said Woods, seeking his first Open title and his third major championship. ``One, for its pristine beauty, and another for the mystique behind Pebble Beach.''

 

 


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