ARDMORE, Pa. — Thursday started poorly for Keegan Bradley when he learned that the Bruins had lost Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, after he watched the second overtime.
Once Bradley arrived at Merion Golf Club for the first round of the US Open, his day didn’t get any better. Bradley bogeyed his first hole (No. 11), took a triple-bogey 7 at the 16th, and struggled to a 7-over-par 77. It’s his highest US Open score — granted, this is just his second appearance — matching last year’s final round at Olympic Club.
“Just a lot of bad luck,” Bradley said. “I had a bunch of plugged lies, I had a lie around the green that I hit backwards. Missed a couple fairways by a foot, and I was in some deep rough. Just some bad luck.”
He rebounded from the opening bogey with a birdie on the par-3 13th, but dropped another shot at No. 15. Then Bradley needed almost four hours to make a triple bogey on the next hole. He took a penalty drop for an unplayable lie from a bunker, angrily swiping at some fescue grass after hitting his shot onto the green. Play was suspended before Bradley could putt, with the delay running 3 hours, 32 minutes. Once play resumed, Bradley three-putted for his triple.
Bradley, the 2011 PGA champion, is 10 shots behind Phil Mickelson, who also played in his group, and knows he’ll likely need something at par or better if he wants to make the cut.
“I’ve got to shoot as low as I can a couple days,” Bradley said. “I’ve got to have one really low round.”
By the numbers
Sergio Garcia had just about every score represented on his card Thursday: eagle, birdie, par, bogey, double bogey, quadruple bogey. Add it all up, and Garcia opened with 73, one of the wilder round swings of the day.
“The US Open doesn’t give you much room,” Garcia said. “I guess I was making my week a little bit tougher, but I tried to battle as much as I could coming in, and I was able to shoot a decent score after being 7 over through eight.”
Garcia went double-quad on Nos. 14-15 (he began on 11), then went birdie-eagle on Nos. 1-2. His good holes were good (eagle, four birdies), but he gave that away and more. Playing in the US for the first time since his verbal spat with Tiger Woods that got him in some trouble, Garcia said he was treated well by the Philadelphia crowd, “for the most part.”
Geoffrey Sisk of Marshfield, Mass., making his seventh start in the US Open, made his only birdie of his round on his last hole, the 10th. It gave him a 78, which means he’ll have work to do to make an Open cut for the third time.
Worcester native Scott Stallings is making his US Open debut, and his opening 71 caught the eye of at least one former US Open winner.
“I’ve got a hunch about him,” said longtime NBC analyst Johnny Miller, the 1973 US Open champion. “He is a long shot right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him Sunday afternoon. He’s got the game.”
Jesse Smith, a 33-year-old native of Dover, N.H., also playing in his first US Open, was even par through four holes. Paired in the last group of the day off the first tee, Smith was minutes from teeing off when the horn blew, suspending play for 45 minutes.
There are 10 amateurs in the field, and the best 18-hole score was turned in by Kevin Phelan, who shot 71. Cheng-Tsung Pan had a 72, Michael Kim a 73, and Cory McElyea an 81.
Of the six players who didn’t finish their rounds, Chris Williams (10 holes) and Gavin Hall (five) were 1 under. Williams is turning professional at next week’s Travelers Championship. Michael Weaver (10 holes), Max Homa (six), and Grayson Murray (four) were all at 2 over, while US Amateur champion Steven Fox (nine holes) was 4 over.Michael Whitmer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.