This is the second straight year he is No. 1 at the U.S. Open, ending a streak of six straight years with a different No. 1 at this major.
He's also just six shots behind world number one Dustin Johnson, Scott Piercy, Russell Henley and Ian Poulter, who defied winds gusting to 25mph to card one-under 69s for a one-stroke lead over former US PGA victor Jason Dufner with the likes of Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson lurking on one-over after grinding out 71s. Another double bogey on the next hole saw Woods walking slowly off the green, seemingly beaten by Shinnecock's harsh greens and his failing putter. Stallings asked. "I mean, it just doesn't happen".
Johnson holed medium-length putts for birdies, a few nervy, short putts for par and picked up a bonus when his shot from a front bunker on the par-4 eighth rattled and rolled into the cup. But after Thursday's first round here, I don't think that record is in jeopardy.
Woods airmailed the green on his approach and it went down a steep hill into light rough. That trio consists of what could be the three best current golfers without a major championship. So to get through those two very tricky par-threes in four shots is well ahead of the game.
Mickelson finished at seven over (77), with Spieth a sot worse off after his 78.
The South African's stunning shot was not only seen by thousands of spectators crowding the green and television viewers, but by former world No 1 and three-time US Open champion Tiger Woods. But over the next four holes, he would give away another five strokes - including back-to-back double-bogeys on the 13th, and 14th - and his chance at a memorable week.
Jason Dufner opened with a 70, and even those at one-over 71 felt as though they put in a hard day's work, a group that included Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson. The four putts led to a crushing double.
"And scrambling when you are out of position on this golf course is also key, and I did that well". He has not had a top 10 in the U.S. Open since he tied for fourth at Pebble Beach in 2010. "Just never really took advantage of the opportunities", Woods said after his round.