Pinehurst, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Defending any title is hard, let alone trying to repeat at a major.
Last year's U.S. Open champion Justin Rose figured that out this year as he needed a late rally to salvage a 2-over 72 during his opening round at Pinehurst.
After carding four bogeys in a 6-hole stretch from the 13th during his outward nine, the Englishman got back to 1-over with a trio of birdies at the first, third and fifth before a late bogey resulted in his final score.
Rose is trying to become the first player to repeat as U.S. Open champion since Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989.
To do that, he will also have to buck the trend of no defending champion finishing inside the top 10 since Tiger Woods tied for sixth in 2008. Woods is also the last person to successfully defend a major title, doing so at the PGA Championship in 2006 and 2007.
"I've got to play some great golf the rest of the week," said Rose. "I shot 2- under on the back nine today and got myself back to two, and even par is within striking distance. If I play well, I feel I can get it under par."
He will most likely need to get into red numbers by the weekend to become a true contender on Sunday.
KAYMER SETS TORRID PACE
Martin Kaymer fired the lowest round ever recorded during a U.S. Open at Pinehurst with a 5-under 65 to claim an early 3-stroke lead after the opening round.
In the previous two times the championship was played at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999 and 2005, the lowest round recorded was a 66 by Peter Hedblom in the second round of 2005.
Kaymer's impressive round included six birdies around a solitary bogey at the seventh.
The 2010 PGA Championship winner is trying to become the first person to win the Players Championship and U.S. Open in the same year.
Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus and Hal Sutton all share the best finish at a U.S. Open by a Players winner with sixth-place finishes. Norman did it in 1994, Nicklaus in 1978 and Sutton in 1983.
An impressive group of names to surpass if he can hang on for the victory.
SPIETH CONTINUES TO THRIVE IN MAJORS
Another major, another impressive start for the 20-year-old Jordan Spieth.
Appearing in his sixth career major and second U.S. Open, the Masters runner- up posted a 1-under 69 on Thursday to earn a share of sixth place.
The 69 ties Spieth's lowest round in a major. He also shot a 69 during the third round of the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, where he would eventually share 21st place.
Spieth has a recent history of fading down the stretch, but if he can learn to fix whatever is causing that, there is no doubt he will become a fixture atop the leaderboards of many majors to come.
* Twenty players have held the first-round lead or co-lead and gone on to win the U.S. Open. The most recent was Rory McIlroy in 2011.
* Kaymer's previous best score in the first round of the U.S. Open was a 74, which he did three straight years from 2010-12.
* The par-4 11th hole was the most difficult on Thursday as players averaged 4.47 strokes.
* The par-5 fifth played as the easiest, with players averaging 4.79 strokes during the opening round.