PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Davis Love III shot a 5-under-par 30 on the front nine Saturday to climb into contention at the U.S. Open.
Love made four birdies and an eagle to miss tying the Open scoring record for nine holes by one shot. Through 12 holes, Love was at 2-over par, five strokes behind leader Graeme McDowell, who had a late-afternoon tee time.
The 1997 PGA champion also served as Exhibit A that good scores were available at Pebble Beach – at least in the morning.
But he wasn’t the only one putting up red numbers early on a cool, breezy day on the Monterey Peninsula.
Last year’s Masters runner-up, 49-year-old Kenny Perry, made four birdies over his first seven holes to briefly get to 3 over before making two bogeys to fall back.
Brandt Snedeker shot 32 on the front nine to get to 4 over.
Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee aced the 181-yard, par-3 fifth hole, the first hole-in-one at the U.S. Open since 2006.
And 60-year-old Tom Watson shot 33 on the front, then made another birdie on No. 12 to get to 4 over. The 1982 champion here at Pebble, who received a special exemption for this year’s tournament then made the cut on the number, was in a tie for 28th. The top 15 finishers get automatic invitations to next year’s Open at Congressional.
Love went birdie-birdie-eagle on Nos. 2, 3 and 4 to start his roll. He made bogey on No. 5, then birdied the par-5 sixth and the par-4 ninth to get to 2 over and in a tie for 13th place. Love’s only major championship came 13 years ago, and he hasn’t finished in the top 10 in any major since 2005. Out of exemptions, he earned his spot at Pebble Beach through sectional qualifying in Ohio.
USGA officials were giving in some places, taking away in others, as they set up one of America’s crown-jewel golf courses for the weekend.
The tee box on the short par-4 fourth hole was moved up for Saturday’s play, 284 yards from the stick, making the hole drivable, especially if the wind is coming from the West, which it was early Saturday afternoon.
But the USGA was not as liberal in watering the course overnight, and the wind was gusting up to 16 mph, which could dry the course and make things progressively more difficult for the afternoon and evening rounds.
And, yes, they will be playing late.
In an effort to televise the tournament in prime time on the East Coast, the USGA set a 6:50 p.m. EDT tee time for McDowell, who comes into the weekend at 3-under-par 139. He leads Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Dustin Johnson and Ryo Ishikawa by two strokes.
Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh tee off about two hours before McDowell, each seven shots off the lead.
Mickelson was set to play with Alex Cejka, one of four players who come into the weekend at even-par 142. Mickelson, seeking his first U.S. Open victory after a record five second-place finishes, shot a 5-under 66 on Friday to get in the hunt.
“I’m in a good spot,” he said after a second round in which he beat the entire field at a major for the first time in his career. “I don’t look at the leaderboard. I don’t look at other players. I look at par. If you can stay around par, you’re going to be in the tournament Sunday. That was kind of the goal.”