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U.S. Open First Round News & Notes

<p>With Mother Nature dealing a cruel blow to Merion Golf Club over the last week, the biggest single concern on the course was the par-4 11th.</p>

Ardmore, PA (Sports Network) - With Mother Nature dealing a cruel blow to Merion Golf Club over the last week, the biggest single concern on the course was the par-4 11th.

The lowest point on the course is susceptible to flooding. Doomsday plans were in place to play two holes on Merion's West Course if the 11th, and 12th, were unplayable.

After Thursday mornings drenching thunderstorm, the green escaped without flooding. Despite likely being the softest green on the course, the 11th was no pushover.

Anyone missing the fairway had trouble hitting the green, see Bill Haas and Lucas Glover as just two examples. Once on the putting surface, the pin was tucked about as far back in the left corner as it could go.

Players were continually fooled by the break around the hole as it looked as though putts from the front of the green were actually breaking up hill away from the cup.

The scoring was a little better than I'm letting on, as players average 4.14 strokes on the par-4, which made it the 12th hardest hole, or eighth easiest if you prefer.

GARCIA SURVIVES TOUGH ROUND

Sergio Garcia is making his first start in the United States since he battled with Tiger Woods at the Players Championship back in May.

The Spaniard dropped six strokes in two holes after knocking a pair of balls out of bounds, on Nos. 14 and 15, but rallied for a 3-over 73.

Garcia played his first eight holes in 7-over par, but climbed back with a birdie at the first and an eagle at the par-5 second.

"Unfortunately, two really bad holes. But that's the way it is," Garcia stated. "The U.S. Open doesn't give you much room."

Garcia might have been heckled by a few fans, but he took it in stride.

"I felt the people were very nice for the whole day," he said. "I think that they, almost all of them, were behind me and that was nice to see."

Even if that wasn't the case, Garcia made it seem as so.

NOTES:

* The weather delay Thursday morning lasted three hours, 32 minutes. Then play was suspended again at 6:10 p.m. and resumed at 6:55 p.m. Play was called for the day at 8:16 p.m.

* Cliff Kresge fired the opening tee shot of the 113th U.S. Open.

* The four par-3s combined to measure 838 yards on Thursday. That's pretty impressive considering the 13th measured just 102 yards.

* The main television booths are set up next to the 17th tee, which isn't a problem for those players. However, several players rattled their tee shots from 18 off the TV booths.

* The 13th was the easiest hole on Thursday as players averaged 2.71 strokes on the par-3.

* The par-4 fifth was the most difficult hole as it took players 4.77 shots on average.

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