Phil Mickelson, already dad of the year, looks to own Thursday at Merion

It's been a good 24 hours for Phil Mickelson. He watched his daughter graduate from 8th grade, hopped on a plane, arrived in Philadelphia about 90 minutes ahead of his tee time, and proceeded to shoot a round that leaves him the clubhouse leader on the first day of the U.S. Open.

Mickelson bogeyed the first hole he played, the 11th, but that was the only blemish on his three-under round of 67. He birdied the 13th, first, seventh and ninth holes. Check out his impressive putt on No. 1 here:

The U.S. Open doesn't generally reward Mickelson's high-risk, high-reward style, a major reason why he's finished second a record five times and hasn't won this event yet. But on this day, with Merion effectively realigned because of the weather, Mickelson took advantage.

"The golf course is playing easy, and yet Merion is fighting hard," Mickelson said after his round. "It's so demanding. It's one of the best tracks I've seen for a U.S. Open."

It's Mickelson's best opening round in years at a U.S. Open; over the last three years, he'd opened with a 76, a 74 and a 76. Perhaps not coincidentally, he's finished T54 and T65 in two of those three years.

It's a long way to the weekend, much less the U.S. Open title, but Mickelson has done exactly what he's needed to do on the tournament's first day. One down, three to go.

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-

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