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Thursday at the U.S. Open: A quick 18

• Golfweek's complete U.S. Open coverage

1. CARTILAGE FEES: So how did that World Famous Left Knee feel after the first round of the U.S. Open? See for yourself. Here’s a sneak peak into Tiger Woods’ post-round press conference, which was filled with more short answers than screwy cartilage:

Q. On 18 you grimaced on the drive, but yet it was a very good drive. Did you tweak a little something there? It seemed like it was the first evidence of any anything with the knee.
WOODS: Didn’t feel very good, no. But I hit a 7-iron in there and hit it left and 3-putted.

Q. Feeling anything now with it?
WOODS: Um-hum.

Q. Was the knee bothering you at all during the round? Can you talk about that?
WOODS: It’s a little sore.

Q. How different is it than before the surgery, say going into Augusta?
WOODS: No, two, two totally different pains. Augusta was a lot different than this one.

Q. Have you felt any pain like that in your preparation?
WOODS: Yes.

Q. So you kind of knew what to expect coming in?
WOODS: Yeah.

Q. How what was the difference between Augusta and now?
WOODS: The cartilage was in there flying around and they took that out. So that relieves it.

2. ON THE ROCKS: Woods was asked later, “Will you do any ice rehab, whirlpool afterwards?”

Said Woods: “Um-hum.”

3. SALT AND PEPPER: It only seems like common sense to avoid accusing Phil Mickelson of poor ballstriking, especially after the first round of a U.S. Open being played in his hometown, a tournament he has seemingly been waiting for his entire life.

Right?

That didn’t stop NBC’s Dottie Pepper during a post-round interview with Lefty Thursday afternoon.

Pepper first asked Mickelson why he had decided to play Round 1 without a driver in his bag, which had already become the most popular story of the day.

Said Mickelson: “Under these conditons that was my game plan. Obviously, if it gets wet I’m going to bring a driver out. But with the fairways being firm and the balls running, I felt like 3-wood would give me the best chance to score well. So it was more important to get the ball in the fairway.”

Pepper, who had questioned Mickelson’s decision on-air earlier in the day after Lefty missed a couple fairways with his 3-wood, quickly responded: “But that didn’t seem to be the case. Do you feel like you may have to switch that up even if the conditions remain the same?”

Mickelson didn’t necessarily enjoy that.

“I missed a number of 3 woods. When I finally hit some 3 woods, I made some birdies,” Lefty said, his tone sounding a bit more combative.

“I shot even par, now you’re talking about how I didn’t hit it that well. I shot even par. Wait till I hit it well.”

Pepper laughed awkwardly, saying “Well good, we can’t wait to watch. Good rally to finish.”

4. QUIET, PLEASE: Some people were worried that puting Woods, Mickelson and Adam Scott in the same group would cause gallery overflow issues.

Lee Westwood was not one of those people.

“Yeah, it was great,” Westwood said. “I want to thank the USGA for putting them together, because it was a lovely, nice, peaceful day out there. I think they should do it more often.”

5. SURPRISE!: So you predicted that Justin Hicks and Kevin Streelman would be leading after the first round of the U.S. Open?

Stop lying.

The trend of of surprise players leading after the first round of the U.S. Open continues, however.

A list of first-round leaders from the last six years:

2008: Justin Hicks, Kevin Streelman
2007: Nick Dougherty
2006: Colin Montgomerie
2005: Rocco Mediate, Olin Browne
2004: Shigeki Maruyama, Jay Haas, Angel Cabrera
2003: Brett Quigley, Tom Watson

6. ROCKIN’ OUT: Rocco Mediate made four birdies Thursday in a 2-under 69. The last time Mediate was under par after the first round of the U.S. Open was in 2005 at Pinehurst. Mediate opened with 67 and tied for sixth, his best showing on Tour until finishing second at last year’s Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I’m ecstatic,” Mediate said. “Anywhere around par for three or four days is going to be fine. Believe me, I don’t know what the winning score is going to be, but when it all comes to the end it will be around par.”

Mediate did not play in last year’s Open and missed the cut in ‘06 at Winged Foot.

7. COMPANY MAN: Mickelson said later in his post-round press conference that the only way he would throw a driver in the bag this week was if it rained and softened the fairways. Then came a cheap plug.

“How strong is that 3-wood?” one reporter asked.

“Just a normal 3-wood. You guys haven’t hit our knew Callaway FT fairway woods, have you? They go a long way.”

8. DOUBLE TROUBLE: Twelve players made double-bogey on the 448-yard, par-4 first hole Thursday. That happened to include Tiger Woods, who played his first competitive hole in two months and made his first double bogey in nine months, and Sergio Garcia, who never recovered and shot 5-over 76.

9. SHORT STUFF: Robert Garrigus, one of the longest hitters on Tour, was probably using the shortest putter Thursday. Garrigus, who is 5-foot-11, used a 28-inch putter in the first round. It didn’t help in his first-round 77.

Garrigus should be more accurate. His father, Tom, won a gold medal in shooting in the 1968 Olympics.

10. STEEEERRRRRRIKE THREE! Part I: Tiger Woods’ three-putt par on No. 18 Thursday was his first three-putt in 125 holes on Torrey Pines’ South Course.

11. STEEEERRRRRRIKE THREE! Part II: San Diego is home of the National League’s reigning Cy Young award winner, Jake Peavy. Sheehan may know how NL hitters feel against Peavy after his encounter with the greenside rough at No. 15.

Sheehan was 3 under and in contention before a triple bogey at No. 15. He whiffed once and hit two foul tips before weakly grounding out to first for a triple bogey.

“The rough is awful,” Sheehan said. “I barely hit the ball the first time and I whiffed the second one, club went right underneath it. And the third swat I took at it, hit the edge on top and came backward, and I got up and down for a triple. I mean it’s disgusting down there.”

12. TOUGH DEFENSE: El Pato could use a pat on the back after his first round at the U.S. Open. Angel Cabrera, the defending champion, made six bogeys and a double bogey in a front-nine 43, en route to an 8-over 79.

He birdied his final two holes.

13. A GOOD BREAK?: The “other guy” in the marquee threesome was happy with his opening round in the U.S. Open, considering he’s playing with a broken bone near his right pinkie.

Australian Adam Scott, ranked No. 3 in the world, shot a 2-over 73, just a bit worse than Woods (72) and Mickelson (71).

Scott’s injury was the top topic after his round in front of a huge gallery at the clifftop course overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

“Well, it’s broken,” said Scott, who broke the bone when a friend slammed his hand in a car door in London in mid-May. “It’s not my finger anyway; it’s my hand. It doesn’t really affect my golf swing, so I’m pretty lucky to be playing.”

14. WOODY’S WARDROBE: On the first day of the national championship, fashion maven Woody Austin wore – what else? – a colorful shirt featuring the American flag. Austin shot 1-over 72 and is tied for 19th.

15. MAJOR FAN: As if the massive gallery following Woods and Mickelson didn’t have enough to cheer, another major champion joined the 18-hole walk at Torrey Pines – Yani Tseng, the 19-year-old rookie from Taiwan who won the LPGA Championship on Sunday and found plenty of friends.

A dozen fans called out her name as she walked by, and Tseng politely smiled and waved.

She was tagging along with NBC’s Dottie Pepper. Tseng is a friend of an assistant pro at Torrey Pines, and she won the Junior World in San Diego during her polished junior career.

“She loves Adam Scott,” Pepper said. “She couldn’t stop talking about him.”

Tseng had to leave after the opening round to return to practice. She is playing next week on the LPGA Tour, then goes to Minnesota for the U.S. Women's Open.

16. YOUR BEST BRETT: Brett Quigley has shin splints but wasn’t using them as an excuse for his 2-over 73.

“It’s the U.S. Open,” he said. “There’s no way I wasn't going to play. Probably any other tournament, I wouldn’t have played. But the U.S. Open there’s no way.”

17. NOT YOUR BEST BRETT: Brett Wetterich withdrew with a wrist injury and was replaced by alternate Andrew Svoboda of New Rochelle, N.Y., playing in his second Open.

18. UNFORTUNATE QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m alive. For a while there I was thinking about jumping in the canyon.” – Steve Stricker, who followed a front-nine 4-under 32 with a back-nine 6-over 41.

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