Club-tossing McIlroy shares early clubhouse lead at US Open

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Rory McIlroy overcame his frustrations and produced some clutch putting to seize a share of the early clubhouse lead in Thursday's first round of the US Open.

Grinding his way through 18 holes at The Country Club, the 33-year-old from Northern Ireland fired a three-under par 67 to match Sweden's David Lingmerth and England's Callum Tarren atop the leaderboard despite a closing bogey.

"Even though I'm standing up here slightly frustrated that I bogeyed the last, it's a great start," said McIlroy.

"You feel like you're right in the tournament from the start of the week, which is nice. It's certainly a different mindset when you get off to a good start. I've just got to keep it going."

Third-ranked McIlroy, a four-time major winner, started on the back nine and rolled in birdie putts from 20 feet at the par-3 16th, 17 feet at the 18th, 25 feet at the seventh and 10 feet at the eighth.

But equally vital was McIlroy's perseverance in sinking clutch par putts from seven feet at the 13th, well outside 12 feet at the 15th, 16 feet at the par-3 second and 14 feet at the tense fifth hole.

"I was accepting of the fact that just give yourself a putt of 10, 15, 20 feet for par, and I feel like I'm putting well enough that I'll have a chance to make those," McIlroy said.

McIlroy reached a greenside bunker off the fifth tee, but failed to escape the bunker with his second shot and then smashed the sand twice with his club. He responded by blasting out 14 feet past the cup and curling in the par putt.

"It's hard not to get frustrated," McIlroy said. "I gave the sand a couple of whacks because I'd already messed it up... I just reset and played a decent bunker shot, and it was really nice to hole that putt."

Frustration returned in the 18th fairway when McIlroy threw his club to the ground after sending his approach into the rough. He left himself a 14-foot par putt and missed it, tapping in for his lone bogey after leading alone.

McIlroy, who won last week's PGA Canadian Open, has not captured a major title since the 2014 PGA Championship. He hopes to become the first player since 1934 to win the US Open after a prior-week victory.

"It has been eight years since I won a major and I just want to get my hands on one again," McIlroy said.

Tarren, a 445-ranked journeyman who spent years on developmental circuits before making the US PGA Tour this season, eagled the par-5 eighth, his penultimate hole, to leap into the hunt.

The 31-year-old Englishman's best PGA showing was a share of fifth in March at the Puerto Rico Open.

"I'm kind of pinching myself," Tarren said. "Just excited with my start."

Lingmerth, an alternate until injured Martin Kaymer withdrew Saturday, birdied 16 and 18 from just inside 30 feet and sank a birdie putt from just under 18 feet at the fifth in his bogey-free round.

"Got off to one of those starts," Lingmerth said. "I was never really in big trouble, but I putted really well."

Americans Hayden Buckley, Brian Harman, Aaron Wise and Matthew NeSmith were on 68 with a pack on 69 including defending champion Jon Rahm of Spain and reigning British Open champion Collin Morikawa.

Rahm had great expectations early until crosswinds began swirling.

"The first five holes when we had no wind, I was thinking, 'We're going to blow the roof off this place," Rahm said. "When the crosswinds started coming, it was tough."

- Mickelson turns 52 -

Rebels of Saudi-backed upstart LIV Golf Series and US PGA Tour stars met for the first time in the field of 156.

The US Golf Association chose not to follow a PGA Tour ban of 17 golfers who played in last week's LIV Golf debut in England, staying faithful to this year's US Open qualifying standards.

Six-time major winner and LIV star Phil Mickelson, who turned 52 Thursday, would complete a career Grand Slam with a victory.

Other late starters included Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas.

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