Mickelson in fine form

Mickelson in fine form

Mickelson in fine form

Family man Phil Mickelson, typically bold and unconventional in his tournament build-up, thrilled his fans by taking the clubhouse lead in the weather-delayed first round of the US Open on Thursday.

Despite having arrived at Merion Golf Club in the early hours of the morning after an overnight flight from his native California, Mickelson soared into contention at the year’s second major with a three-under-par 67.

Play was eventually abandoned for the day in fading light following two earlier suspensions totaling four-and-a-quarter hours, with world number six Luke Donald leading at four under par after 13 holes.

"I feel like I'm in pretty good control of my game, and it's nice to get off to such a good start," Englishman Donald told reporters after making three consecutive birdies from the 11th, a curling nine-footer at the 13th giving him the outright lead.

Masters champion Adam Scott was at three under after 11 holes while tournament favourite Tiger Woods, whose left wrist appeared to cause him pain on at least three occasions when playing out of the rough, was at two over after 10 holes.

Left-hander Mickelson, who carried five wedges but no driver in his bag to tackle Merion's short East Course, mixed four birdies with a lone bogey after setting off from the 11th hole in the second group of the day.

Mickelson equaled his lowest ever opening round at the US Open, having previously fired a 67 at the start of the 1999 championship at Pinehurst where he finished in second place.

Long-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts opened with a 69 while former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, fellow South African Tim Clark, Australian Jason Day and Americans Jerry Kelly and Rickie Fowler carded 70s. Kelly had been just one stroke behind Mickelson before slipping back with a double-bogey at the tricky par-four 18th.

Americans Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson, and English world number five Justin Rose, were among a group of 10 players knotted on 71.

Late starter Woods, seeking his first major title in five years, faced a short par putt on the 11th green before marking his ball after officials blew the horn to halt play for the day.

Woods had recorded two birdies, including a 50-footer at the sixth, but he also threw in four bogeys to leave himself with work to do when the first round resumes at 7:15 am on Friday. "I've got a lot of holes to play tomorrow, and hopefully I can play a little better than I did today," said Woods, who is hunting his 15th major title.