Martin Kaymer opened up a sizeable lead after day one of the U.S. Open as his stunning 65 left him three clear of the early leaders grouped on minus two.
The German, already a major winner after his US PGA victory at Whistling Straits nearly four years ago, came home in 31 late on Thursday evening, including three birdies in his last five holes, to sit comfortably atop of the leaderboard at five under.
Graeme McDowell, winner of this event at Pebble Beach in 2010, managed a two-under 68 to sit alongside American's Kevin Na and Fran Quinn - a man playing his first U.S. Open since 1996, as well as Zimbabwe's Brendan De Jonge.
A host of top players are just one shot further back at one under as conditions in North Carolina proved easier than expected, although the USGA will undoubtedly toughen up the pin positions for Friday, seeking to ensure anything around level par is a winning score.
For now though, the likes of Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari and early leader Keegan Bradley are currently in the red, four back of the imperious 2014 Players Champion Kaymer who, having rediscovered the sort of form that saw him rise to number one in the world three years ago, is looking to become a double major champion at just 29 years of age.
The man from Dusseldorf opened with a birdie like many others had on Thursday and followed that up with another at the fifth to grab an early share of the lead.
At seven, his only blemish of the day came on the tough par four but three straight pars followed and he made the turn at one under.
Then he produced master class in iron play on the back nine as set up birdie chances at 10, 14, 16 and 17 - and his putter did not desert him as he duly converted all of them to blow away the field and card a quite unbelievable round of five under.
Because of Kaymer's heroics, the like of Lee Westwood (+5), Masters champion Bubba Watson (+6), and another former world number one Luke Donald (+7) will all be fighting to make the weekend when they tee it up for round two.
Defending champion Justin Rose is seven back of Kaymer at plus two but by no means out of it, while Rory McIlroy's one-over 71 was matched by 19-year-old English amateur Matthew Fitzpatrick who more than impressed the watching galleries on Thursday.
Phil Mickelson, a runner up a record six times at his home Open and chasing the career Grand Slam, was in the group with Rose and Fitzpatrick and recorded the lowest score of their three ball with an even-par 70 as the second major of the season provided an entertaining opening 18.
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