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Brooks Koepka makes strong start at US Open

Brooks Koepka makes strong start at US Open
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Brooks Koepka made an impressive start to his bid for a third US Open victory in five years as Phil Mickelson's hopes of completing the career grand slam suffered a significant blow.Koepka, who won the title in 2017 and 2018 and was second in 2019, carded an opening 69 at Torrey Pines to lie two shots behind early clubhouse leader Russell Henley.Former Open champion Francesco Molinari was a shot off the lead following a 68, but Mickelson was four over par approaching the end of his round, a month after becoming the oldest champion in major history with his shock victory in the US PGA Championship.Brooks Koepka cards a 2-under 69 in the first round of the U.S. Open.Koepka has gone on to win or finish second in six of the last 10 majors which he opened with a score in the 60s.#USOpen- PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) June 17, 2021Starting on the back nine, Koepka birdied the 12th, 17th and 18th to reach the turn in 33 before another birdie on the second took him into the outright lead on four under.A wild tee shot to the third cost the 31-year-old his first bogey of the day and another shot went on the seventh after a pulled drive which finished at the base of a picnic bench where spectators were eating lunch.Also starting on the back nine after a 90-minute delay due to fog, Mickelson dropped a shot on the 10th when he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker, his par attempt catching the edge of the hole and spinning out.Guy just wants to eat his sandwich. 🤷‍♂️ #USOpen pic.twitter.com/vIBnFXkLxa- U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 17, 2021The six-time major winner was even more unfortunate on the 13th when, after taking a penalty drop from a bush, his fourth shot to the 613-yard par five bounced once before hitting the pin and rebounding off the green.Mickelson did well to limit the damage to a single shot by chipping to six feet and holing the putt, but another shot went on the 15th after an errant drive.A birdie on the 17th stopped the rot and Mickelson also found the green on the par-five 18th in two, but could only three-putt from 60 feet for par.Just nine days before rolling back the years to win the US PGA, Mickelson had reluctantly accepted a special exemption for the US Open, an event in which he has finished runner-up a record six times.The exemption was required because Mickelson had slipped out of the world's top 100 and the prospect of him joining Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in having won all four majors looked increasingly far-fetched.However, Mickelson's stunning victory at Kiawah Island came with a five-year US Open exemption and the 51-year-old - who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday - spent last week practising hard at a course he used to love.Mickelson has won three times at Torrey Pines, including back-to-back victories in the Buick Invitational - now the Farmers Insurance Open - in 2000 and 2001, but three months after the last of those successes the South Course underwent a major redesign which was not to Mickelson's liking.In his 18 starts since, the left-hander has recorded just four top-10 finishes and in the last seven years has missed the cut three times, withdrawn once with a back injury, skipped one year to play on the European Tour and has a best finish of 14th in 2017.England's Marcus Armitage made an impressive start on his US Open debut with a level-par 71.

Brooks Koepka made an impressive start to his bid for a third US Open victory in five years as Phil Mickelson's hopes of completing the career grand slam suffered a significant blow.

Koepka, who won the title in 2017 and 2018 and was second in 2019, carded an opening 69 at Torrey Pines to lie two shots behind early clubhouse leader Russell Henley.

Former Open champion Francesco Molinari was a shot off the lead following a 68, but Mickelson was four over par approaching the end of his round, a month after becoming the oldest champion in major history with his shock victory in the US PGA Championship.

Starting on the back nine, Koepka birdied the 12th, 17th and 18th to reach the turn in 33 before another birdie on the second took him into the outright lead on four under.

A wild tee shot to the third cost the 31-year-old his first bogey of the day and another shot went on the seventh after a pulled drive which finished at the base of a picnic bench where spectators were eating lunch.

Also starting on the back nine after a 90-minute delay due to fog, Mickelson dropped a shot on the 10th when he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker, his par attempt catching the edge of the hole and spinning out.

The six-time major winner was even more unfortunate on the 13th when, after taking a penalty drop from a bush, his fourth shot to the 613-yard par five bounced once before hitting the pin and rebounding off the green.

Mickelson did well to limit the damage to a single shot by chipping to six feet and holing the putt, but another shot went on the 15th after an errant drive.

A birdie on the 17th stopped the rot and Mickelson also found the green on the par-five 18th in two, but could only three-putt from 60 feet for par.

US Open
Officials inspect the 16th green after a fog delay during the first round of the US Open (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Just nine days before rolling back the years to win the US PGA, Mickelson had reluctantly accepted a special exemption for the US Open, an event in which he has finished runner-up a record six times.

The exemption was required because Mickelson had slipped out of the world's top 100 and the prospect of him joining Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in having won all four majors looked increasingly far-fetched.

However, Mickelson's stunning victory at Kiawah Island came with a five-year US Open exemption and the 51-year-old – who celebrated his birthday on Wednesday – spent last week practising hard at a course he used to love.

Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson plays his shot from the 18th tee during the first round of the US Open (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Mickelson has won three times at Torrey Pines, including back-to-back victories in the Buick Invitational – now the Farmers Insurance Open – in 2000 and 2001, but three months after the last of those successes the South Course underwent a major redesign which was not to Mickelson's liking.

In his 18 starts since, the left-hander has recorded just four top-10 finishes and in the last seven years has missed the cut three times, withdrawn once with a back injury, skipped one year to play on the European Tour and has a best finish of 14th in 2017.

England's Marcus Armitage made an impressive start on his US Open debut with a level-par 71.

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina22131247
United StatesUnited States19201352
JapanJapan175830
AustraliaAustralia1331430
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia11151238
Great BritainGreat Britain9101231
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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