Ryan Palmer took the early leaderboard top spot in Round 1 of the 2011 U.S. Open, but former Georgia Bulldogs star caught fire on his back nine. Watson knocked down four straight birdies to overcome a hole No. 17 bunker-induced bogey and move into a tie for with Y.E. Yang and Palmer for first place at 3-under-par.
But things got ugly toward the end, unlike his glorious pants. On hole No. 7, his 16th hole of the day, Watson put himself in a difficult position and had a hard time recovering, but was able to escape with a bogey. He then three-putted his 17th hole to go 1-under. On his final hole, he again wound up on the wrong end of the dance floor, again requiring three putts to reach the cup. He ended up even, placing him second among all players with Georgia ties.
Stewart Cink is into the clubhouse at 1-under, good enough for a fourth-place tie so far. Fellow Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets alum Matt Kuchar is close behind, also finishing at 1-over after a rocky day that included a double bogey. UGA alum Christo Greyling shows up at 1-over, with Russell Henley at 2-over.
The Congressional tournament's field is slim on Georgians, but based on the opening round I think it's reasonable to hope for at least one top-10 finisher among local players. A win would be the first victory in a major by any of the three since Cink's 2009 British Open victory -- neither Watson nor Kuchar has yet won a major PGA Tour tournament.