Korean Yang hits the front with 68

Martin Kaymer of Germany on the 18th green during the first round of the US Open  Championship golf tournament on Thursday. AP

Yang, who became Asia's first male major winner after overhauling Tiger Woods to clinch the 2009 PGA Championship, carded a three-under-par 68 on the Blue Course to hold the clubhouse lead.

"The last few US Opens that I attended, I was over par so I'm very satisfied right now," Yang told reporters after a round featuring birdies on each of the four par-three holes.

"I think that my conservative approach, just trying to hit the greens, has been helpful. I try to make pars, less bogeys, and I've been lucky enough to make a few birdies."

British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa opened with a 69 while holder Graeme McDowell of Britain, Americans Stewart Cink and Chez Reavie and Swedes Johan Edfors and Henrik Stenson returned matching 70s.

With Congressional's greens fairly receptive after being softened by early morning rain, scoring was better than expected in the opening round of the year's second major.
"They (the greens) were still pretty firm, but the ball would stop," 2009 British Open champion Cink said after mixing four birdies with three bogeys.

"Just a little bit of moisture in the grass makes a huge difference on a course like this. We had a little rain in the morning and it delayed the drying out process until probably about now.

"And if the wind keeps up, we had it about as good as it's going to get," added Cink who ended his round as the wind began to strengthen at tree-lined Congressional.

Oosthuizen, who landed his maiden major title with a crushing seven-stroke victory at last year's British Open, was pleasantly surprised by the scoring conditions.

"Everyone expected it to be a bit quicker, the greens, but they're good," the South African said after recovering from a bogey-bogey start.

"They're running really nice, and you're still getting a lot of good putts out there. There are birdies out there, but if you hit one or two wrong, you can so easily make a bogey."
Oosthuizen was in an upbeat mood after clawing his way into contention after his poor start.

"I feel confident with the game," he said after recording six birdies in his last 15 holes. "It's just a matter of going out and getting the job done. I didn't have a good start, but I had a good comeback after that. I'm happy with my score." American world number five Phil Mickelson and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa were among the late starters.

Early morning drizzle gave way to warm sunshine and light breezes at Congressional where showers and thunderstorms are forecast for later in the day.

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