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Pair shoot 66; Duval staggers to 83

6/18/2004

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. -- No wind at Shinnecock Hills?

That's about as likely as a 50-year-old grabbing a share of the
lead at the U.S. Open.

Jay Haas, two weeks removed from his runner-up finish at the
Senior PGA Championship, took advantage of a surprisingly calm day
on the links-styled course reputed for its whipping winds. With
birdies at both par 3s on the back nine, he shot 4-under 66 that
left him tied for the clubhouse lead with Shigeki Maruyama.

Angel Cabrera of Argentina also was 4 under through 13 holes
when the first round, already delayed by storms in the area, was
halted for good late Thursday when fog made it impossible to see
the green.

"It was really pretty fortunate with the weather,'' Haas said.
"It was just the kind of day that you had to feel you could be
aggressive at a U.S. Open.''

Shinnecock Hills had just about every element except the one
that sharpens its teeth -- wind that makes it tough to find the
fairway and keep the ball on the green. That gave way to soupy fog
in the morning, a steamy sun at midday and the threat of storms
that suspended the round for more than two hours.

Among the 57 players who did not finish their round were Masters
champion Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh, both at 2 under par and
without a bogey. Play is to resume at 7 a.m. ET.

"No question, today was the day for scoring,'' said Mickelson,
who had three holes remaining.

Not everyone who played early had an easy time.

Tiger Woods needed to save par five times from the bunker -- and
once for his only birdie -- in a pedestrian round of 72. It was the
fourth straight time he failed to shoot par or better in the first
round of a major. Looming ominously for Woods is that he has never
won any tournament when starting out over par.

"There's an awful long way to go,'' Woods said. "We haven't
seen the wind up yet. If that ever happens, this golf course is
pretty tough.''

Ernie Els took a double bogey at No. 11 (his second hole), but
recovered with some terrific wedge play and a few timely putts to
salvage a 70. Davis Love III made two triple bogeys and shot 76.

The worst score belonged to David Duval. Playing for the first
time in seven months, Duval was tied for the lead at one point --
the first hole -- but eventually unraveled off the tee and shot 83,
matching his worst score as a professional. But he had a good time
and realized he wasn't tournament tested.

"I would call it an enormous victory for me today,'' Duval
said. "I can't wait for tomorrow.''

Some guys wish Thursday would never end.

David Roesch was thinking of giving up golf after this year, but
he made it through two stages of qualifying, got into the Open and
then birdied four of the first six holes he played. Roesch was in a
large group at 68.

"I don't know if it's hit me yet,'' said Roesch, a 30-year-old
from Wisconsin who plays the Hooters Tour. "I don't know if I want
to wake up or not.''

Kris Cox, a PGA Tour rookie who has never been to the U.S. Open,
also kept his name on the leaderboard throughout the day and shot
68.

"A year ago this time I was playing the Gateway Tour in
Scottsdale, Arizona,'' Cox said. "Actually, I was hurrying to get
done to watch the Open.''

Joining them was Kevin Stadler -- son of 1982 Masters champion
Craig Stadler -- along with Jeff Maggert, Skip Kendall and British
Open champion Ben Curtis.

Only three other players managed to break par -- Trevor Immelman,
Tim Petrovic and Brian Gay. Even without the wind, Shinnecock is no
picnic. And there's no telling what will happen if the wind decides
to show up.

"Tuesday when we played, the wind blew pretty hard and the golf
course played very, very difficult,'' Maggert said. "If we would
have saw that kind of wind this morning, par would have been a very
good score.''

The U.S. Open has a history of treating the old folks kindly in
the first round.

Tom Watson was 53 when he shot 65 in the first round at Olympia
Fields last year. Hale Irwin shot a 67 at Southern Hills in the
first round in the 2001 U.S. Open.

No one was all that surprised to see Haas in the lead. Even
though he turned 50 last December, he has remained a regular on the
PGA Tour and has played well enough to blend right in with guys
young enough to be his son.

In fact, he was playing with his son.

"There's nothing you can about it. He's good,'' said Bill Haas,
22, who was 3 over with one hole left. "He's top 25 in the world,
so it's not like he can't play. Most kids can beat their dads, but
I can't.''

Still, Haas hasn't won in more than 10 years on the PGA Tour,
and he has never won a major.

Haas twice made birdies that would have gone 10 feet past if the
hole had not been in the way, including a 40-footer on the 17th
that moved him to 4 under.

"I felt like I stole a couple there,'' he said.

It was his best start ever at the U.S. Open, and only the fourth
time he has broken par in the first round since his first
appearance 30 years ago.

Maruyama put together a great round before a large crowd -- he
played with Woods and Chad Campbell (72). The Japanese star has
said the U.S. Open intimidates him with its rock-hard greens and
high rough.

"I just tried to get even par today,'' Maruyama said. "Through
the practice round, I never hit under par here. I wasn't very
aggressive.''

That proved to be a smart plan, as Maruyama never made bogey and
surged to the top of the leaderboard with a 60-foot birdie on No.
10 and a tee shot on the 11th that stopped 3 feet from the hole.

Maruyama usually takes a hot shower after his round to control
neck and back injuries.

Haas might have been expected to take a nap at his age, but he
had more important things to do. He returned to the course as a
spectator to watch his son play.

"I'll watch him tomorrow afternoon after I get done,'' Bill
said.