McElroy gets to 4-under midway through Open round

Finally, someone has gotten to 4-under par on the first day of the U.S. Open at Congressional.

Say hello to Rory McIlroy, who came very close toward winning his first major at this year’s Masters before a back-nine collapse of epic proportions resulted in an 80 and a 15th-place tie.

The 22-year-old McIlroy, who is playing in the same group Thursday with Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, birdied three consecutive holes – 17, 18 and 1 – to get to minus-4. He is now through 11 holes, playing the front nine second.

Sergio Garcia, who now holds the streak among active players for the most consecutive majors played in (48), is at 3-under through 11 holes and Rory Sabbatini is at that same figure going to his second nine.

Y.E. Yang, the 2009 PGA champion, is in the clubhouse at 3-under, finishing with a 68.

Mickelson, who doubled bogeyed his first hole when he put his tee shot at the 199-yard par-3 into the water in front of the green, finally has gotten back to even-par for the day through 11 holes. He made birdie at his 11th, Congresssional’s par-3 second.

The only Philadelphia-area native playing in the Open, Michael Tobiason Jr., of Wilmington, carded a 75 in his first career Open round. Tobiason, a teaching pro at Applecross Country Club in Downingtown, birdied the par-4 12th hole but had five bogeys, including a pair of 3-putts.

--Joe Juliano