Payne Stewart was the only one who really felt like dancing at the U.S. Open.
The other eight players who managed to break par in the first round Thursday were either too surprised to see their names on the leaderboard or simply relieved to get off the course before it caught up with them."Always be satisfied with making par," said Stewart, who speaks from experience of having won this championship seven years ago at Hazeltine.
On a day when The Olympic Club beat up so many others, Stewart was doing a shimmy on the 17th green when a 45-foot putt fell, the centerpiece of a masterful birdie-birdie-birdie finish.
That gave him a 4-under-par 66 and a one-stroke lead over Mark Carnevale, who won the Utah Open in 1990. Another stroke back were Tom Lehman, Jose Maria Olazabal and Bob Tway - all past major championship winners - along with Joe Durant, the only player to reach 5-under during the day.
The only Utah player in the Open, Provo's Mike Reid, struggled in with a 6-over-par 76.
Lehman, who has held the lead going into the final round of the last three U.S. Opens, birdied three of the last four holes, and Olazabal holed a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th.
"I took advantage of some breaks out there," Stewart said. "When we get them, you have to take advantage of them, especially in a U.S. Open, because you don't get that many."
Stewart called his 4-3-3 finish "unheard of" on the closing holes of Olympic, but that wasn't the only unusual twist.
Amateur Paul Simson was 2-under at the turn until a spectator ran off with his errant tee shot on the 10th hole. Not realizing what had happened, Simson considered it lost and played a second tee shot. He took triple bogey on his way to a 43 on the back.
Jesper Parnevik, who was at 69 with John Daly and Jeff Maggert, sensed that the pin placement on No. 18 was different than what his yardage book showed, and he was right. The USGA realized the pin was unfair and changed it two hours into the round, although everyone played it the same.
And Casey Martin made history by becoming the first player to ride a cart in the U.S. Open. It could have used a pair of headlights, since Martin's bogey-bogey finish for a 74 came in near darkness.
"It was overwhelming, the support I got from the crowd out there," he said. "I have to admit, I was almost crying on the first tee. I just had to get up there and hit it quick before I thought about what was going on."
Lehman was one of many who repeated a popular phrase in majors - they cannot be won on Thursday, only lost.
And several players who didn't beat Olympic didn't beat themselves, either.
Colin Montgomerie never went over par in his round of 70, where he was joined by Masters champion Mark O'Meara, Tom Kite and happy-go-lucky amateur Matt Kuchar.
Those at 71 included Justin Leonard and Phil Mickelson. Fred Couples was at 72, and the group at 73 featured Tom Watson and 58-year-old Jack Nicklaus.
For others, Olympic hit them before they knew what was hap-pen-ing.
Tiger Woods was cruising along at 2-under, tied for the lead in the early going, when he four-putted No. 9 for a double bogey. Four more bogeys followed on the back and Woods wound up at 74.
Steve Pate was also at 2-under with only three holes left when he missed the next three fairways and finished at 72.
"That's the beauty of the U.S. Open," David Duval said after four bogeys in the final eight holes led to a 75. "You're never so happy as when you're done. There's no let-up."
Durant also took a beating, even if he felt like a winner.
Durant, who has made only six of 12 cuts on the PGA Tour this year, birdied four of the first five holes and got to 5-under with a wedge into 1 foot on the 12th hole.
"The crowd started getting a little bigger, and a lot more cameras were out there following us," Durant said. "I started getting a little nervous." He made two bogeys and a double bogey over the last five holes.
Carnevale also felt the nerves, but he managed to fight through him. He was the only player to avoid a bogey in the first round and was one of only five players to make birdie on No. 17 - a 468-yard, par 4 that is the toughest at Olympic. He hit a 2-iron into 6 inches.
"Granted, this is only Thursday, but this is where all the attention of the golf world is this week," Carnevale said.