Price Shoots 66 in First Round

SOUTHAMPTON, New York -- Nick Price, the guy who grabbed two major championships last year, is off to a smashing start at the U.S. Open.

Playing to the near perfection that won the British Open and PGA Championship in 1994, Price missed the course record at Shinnecock Hills by a single stroke Thursday, shooting a 4-under-par 66 to take the first-round lead by one stroke over Scott Simpson.

Price, who failed to make a 1.8-meter birdie putt on the last hole that would have given him a share of the record, was two strokes ahead of Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson going into Friday's second round.

Mickelson had gotten to 5-under through 15 holes then went double bogey, bogey and shot a 68.

It was vintage Price, hitting greens and making putts -- except for the one that cost him the record.

"I felt like I shot a course record anyway,'' said Price, who took three weeks off earlier this year after missing the cut at the Masters and the Houston Open. "If you break 70 on this course you've played your tail off.''

That's exactly what Price did, hitting 15 of the 18 greens on his way to a five-birdie, one-bogey round.

Jeff Maggert, Fuzzy Zoeller, Bill Glasson, Steve Lowery, Jumbo Ozaki and Bob Tway were three strokes back at 69.

Tiger Woods, the 19-year-old U.S. Amateur champion, shot a 74, along with defending U.S. Open champion Ernie Els, Payne Stewart and Bernhard Langer.