There's still three days to go in the 2013 U.S. Open, but a few competitors already made big statements on Day 1.
It was a strange outing at Merion on Thursday. Two rain delays pushed afternoon tee times back and forced golfers to try to find a rhythm in a fragmented day.
Life wasn't all that easy for those who got to finish their rounds either. As expected, Merion Golf Club's East proved to be a challenging course for the field as scores under par were rare among those that finished.
It was an exciting start that should have fans ready for another three days of action. After the first day, these three golfers appear primed to make a serious run at winning the major.
As everyone expected, one of golf's biggest names is atop the clubhouse leaderboard. Oh, wait. No, not that big name.
Everyone expected Tiger Woods to be the favorite heading into the Open, but it's Lefty that has emerged as a real contender.
Lefty is one of the most recognizable names in golf outside of that Tiger guy, and he showed up in a big way on Day 1 at Merion. Despite a serious lack of sleep because he went to California to see his daughter speak at her eighth grade graduation, Mickelson turned in a 67.
Phil's nights will presumably be filled with a lot more sleep for the rest of the tournament. Considering what a tired Mickelson did on Day 1, a well-rested Mickelson could be bad news for the rest of the field.
Luke Donald may have been the most devastated by the tournament being suspended due to lack of light. He was in the midst of a three-hole birdie streak when he was forced to call it a day.
The English competitor didn't come in as a serious contender. His highest finish this year was third place at RBC Heritage, but that's certainly changed.
On the East course, birdies are hard to come by. When just 15 golfers—and only two that actually played the full round—finish in the red, you know it's a tough course. However, Donald just looked dialed in.
Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel sheds a little light on why:
Luke Donald is one of the world's best wedge players. Merion is one of the world's best wedge courses. It's all making sense now.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) June 14, 2013
Donald failed to make the cut at last year's US Open and has never finished in the Top 10. That's likely to change this year.
The third wheel of the Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott super group, the 2013 Masters champion came in a bit underrated.
After Day 1, it's no question who has the best shot at winning out of the highly ranked trio. Scott was on fire through the 11 holes they played, collecting four birdies along the way. He even closed out the day with one on No. 11 before play was suspended.
He ended the day at three-under and tied with Phil Mickelson for second place on the overall leaderboard.
As Justin Ray of ESPN points out, Scott has been clutch at majors recently.
Adam Scott is one of 8 players to make cut in each of last 5 majors. Scott is combined -15. 2nd-best in that group: Woods... at +2.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) June 11, 2013
Perhaps it's Scott that should have come in as the favorite. He's certainly a nice pick now.