US Open
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Round 1 Reports
Browne & Mediate set first day pace
Corey Pavin flies to sees son graduate
Phil Mickelson rates Pinehurst tougher than 1999
Ian Poulter unhappy at cut of cups
Tiger Woods happy with opening round of 70
Rocco Mediate enjoys return to the lime light

Phil Mickelson rates Pinehurst tougher than 1999

Runner-up to Payne Stewart the last time the U.S. Open was staged at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999, Phil Mickelson knew exactly what to expect going into the opening round of this year's tournament on Thursday.

However, the course has changed in those six years and the left-hander was pleasantly surprised with what he experienced.

"It's totally different than '99," Mickelson said after happily carding a one-under 69.

"In '99 we had six or eight yard wider fairways and we had rain, so the ball was stopping.

"Now, our fairways, we've taken 30 percent away, and they're brick hard, so the ball is just running right on through.

"The greens are a lot harder than they were in '99. Then we were able to fly shots and get it close and shoot at pins."

Mickelson was quick to add at least one thing will be in common from six years ago.

"I think we're in for a tough three more days," the world number four said.

"I don't see how anybody will be under par in these conditions after 72 holes."

In 1999 only Stewart was under par at the end of the weekend and there is every indication that this week's winner could also be the only player in red figures.

Journeymen Olin Browne and Rocco Mediate shared the lead after day one on three-under-par 67 but the course withstood assaults from all the top-ranked contenders, including world number one Tiger Woods, who signed for an even-par 70.

"It's a good, hard, fair test," added Mickelson, who has three second-place finishes at U.S. Opens on his resume.

"But it's certainly challenging.

"We see shots this week that I haven't seen probably in decades, some of the shots around the greens.

"It's really important to get off to a good start here, because it plays right on the edge today."



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