Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson experienced contrasting starts from similar positions as the 115th US Open got under way at Chambers Bay on Thursday.
Both players missed the green on the first hole, which was playing as a long par four in the opening round, with their approach shots rolling down a steep slope onto the adjacent 18th fairway.
But while Mickelson displayed his renowned short game skills by pitching to within inches of the hole to save par, Watson’s first attempt to “putt” up the slope using a fairway wood failed to reach the green and rolled back to his feet.
The double Masters champion only just found the putting surface with his second attempt and two-putted for a double-bogey six, although he was at least not last thanks to Josh Persons starting his round on the 10th with a triple-bogey seven.
Mickelson has finished runner-up a record six times in the US Open, the one tournament he needs to win to become the sixth player to complete a career grand slam.
Another left-hander, American Cody Gribble, was the early leader on one under par after a birdie on the first, with English pair John Parry and Andy Sullivan in a large group along with Mickelson on level par.
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher was among the later starters and hoping that his caddie, Damian Moore, would be fit enough to be alongside him after suffering a leg injury on Wednesday.
Moore was taken from the course on a stretcher after falling victim to the steep slopes and dry, slippery grass at Chambers Bay, with a temporary replacement on stand-by if he was unable to work.