Dougherty leads battered pros at Oakmont

Nick Dougherty
Simon Bruty/SI
Woods shot a 1-over 71 Thursday.

"Imagine if we don't get any rain and the greens get firmer and firmer by this weekend, it's going to be difficult out there,'' Olazabal said.

Going to get difficult? What is it now? David Toms led at 3 under at one point, only to finish at 72 following bogeys on five of his last six holes.

"Even in a major like Augusta, even other difficult major we play, you probably are going to have one or two shots where you can take off,'' Woods said. "It's not that hard of a shot. You can close your eyes and probably hit it either in the fairway or on the greens, and it's an easy shot. On this golf course there are none, and no easy birdies.''

No doubt it didn't help that only a dozen or so in the field have tournament experience at Oakmont, which hadn't hosted a U.S. Open since 1994 - the year before Woods began playing in the national championship. Once the leaders experience all of Oakmont's nuances, and the greens that tilt like a miswired pinball machine, maybe they'll be more comfortable.

Or maybe not. Arnold Palmer has played Oakmont for 66 years and still doesn't know all of its ins and outs and peculiarities.

"When he (Woods) and I played here last Monday, 10 over would have won it by five,'' Ogilvy said. "Right now 10 over is not going to win, if it stays like this.''

One of the big questions before Thursday was how well Mickelson would play with an injured left wrist that didn't allow him to play a full practice round this week. The answer: not all that badly, given his 4-over 74. He parred each of the last eight holes, getting more comfortable once he began taking off his wrist guard while putting.

"I feel OK to hit balls,'' said Mickelson, who lost a one-shot lead on the final hole at Winged Foot last year, allowing Ogilvy to win. "It's sore and aggravating and it's annoying, but it's not like the pain was as little as five, six days ago.''

Justin Rose, among a group of 16 at 1-over 71, said staying around is the main goal of Day 1.

"I haven't shot myself out of the tournament, which is what Round 1 is all about,'' Rose said.

And can anyone feel comfortable with Woods, winner of four of the last nine majors, hanging so close?

"That's what he does, gets the best score of the day he can, not his best but he's still in the tournament,'' Ogilvy said.

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