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Woods shines brightest among stars
Tiger Woods waits his turn on the 14th hole during the first round of the US Open (AP Photo/The Sacramento Bee, Paul Kitagaki Jr)
Tiger Woods has made his best start to a US Open for a decade, but for defending champion Rory McIlroy and world number one Luke Donald - and some other big guns - it was a round to forget.
Woods, his confidence back after victory in the Memorial tournament two weeks ago, posted a one-under-par 69 at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
It put him in joint second place and part of a group which also included Justin Rose and 2010 winner Graeme McDowell.
They were three strokes behind surprise leader Michael Thompson, a qualifier who was runner-up in the US Amateur on the course five years ago.
McIlroy, an eight-shot winner a year ago, struggled to a 77, however, and Donald, his search for a first major looking set to go on, managed only a 79.
Lee Westwood was paired with them and after a double bogey start he battled back for a far more respectable 73.
But Phil Mickelson lost a ball up a tree with his opening drive and signed for a 76 - his joint worst start in 22 US Opens - and Masters champion Bubba Watson - the other member of the star morning group alongside Woods - fared even worse with a 78.
As for China's 14-year-old Andy Zhang, the youngest player ever to compete in the event and called up only on Monday when England's Paul Casey pulled out injured, he began triple bogey, double bogey and needed a birdie on the last just to break 80. At least he could say he matched Donald.
The shot of the day came from American Nick Watney. Two months after Louis Oosthuizen's albatross in The Masters Watney had one with a 190-yard five-iron at the long 17th. It was only the third in US Open history and he was another in on 69.
Woods said: "I played well - I felt like I had control of my game all day and stuck to my game plan. We knew it (the course) was going to be quick, but we didn't think it was going to happen overnight. I was really, really surprised how much it changed - it was just like they used sub-air on the whole place and you had to make adjustments. I was very pleased with every fact of my game and I stayed very patient."