Billy the Kid is going wild in another birdie shootout.
Billy Andrade, packing a deadly driver and a smoking putter, birdied five of six holes early in the first round of the U.S. Open Thursday as he took aim on his third straight title.Andrade shrugged off a bogey on the second hole, then birdied the third, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth after a downpour softened the closely cropped greens of Hazeltine National.
Fears of soaring scores from skidding greens and sun-baked fairways vanished when a thunderstorm dumped a half-hour of hard rain on the course two hours before play began.
Perfect conditions greeted the first group of players, and the weather forecast called for warm, sunny weather the rest of the day.
Yet, signs of trouble showed up right away as Hale Irwin, a three-time winner, bogeyed the long, tricky par-4 first hole. Irwin drove into a bunker to start the tournament, hit out nicely, but missed a 6-footer.
Before the round, Andrade, the skinny little golly-gee guy who can't believe his back-to-back wins, blinked with astonishment at the champions surrounding him.
It looked like an ambush, the hottest kid on the tour wedged among the winners of seven Opens. Psyche-out time on the first tee. Felony intimidation.
Ahead of him stood Irwin, who won his first Open when Andrade was 10 and his third Open last year. In the group behind loomed the winners of four other Opens - Curtis Strange (1988 and '89), Scott Simpson (1987) and Tom Watson (1982).
"Hale Irwin has won more Opens than I've played," Andrade said, kissing off any suggestion that he should be among the favorites to win this tournament in his third appearance. Yet, he did not discount his chances.
"Right now I'm rolling, not really thinking about crashing," he said. "I just want to ride this out. I don't feel there's any pressure on me."
"If I can continue to putt well, I have a good chance to win. I don't think this course favors a guy who is extremely long."
(Ace in the hole)
Chaska, Minn. (AP) - John Inman scored a hole in one Thursday in the opening round of the U.S. Open.
Inman, from Roswell, Ga., scored his ace with a 4-iron on the 184-yard fourth hole at Hazeline National Golf Club.