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Amateur upstages pros to take clubhouse lead at U.S. Open

(Reuters) - The unlikely name of Scottie Scheffler was the clubhouse leader after the first day at the rain hit U.S. Open on Thursday.

Granted, only nine players completed the first round on a day of frustrating weather delays at Oakmont Country Club outside Pittsburgh, but that does not detract from the achievement by the 19-year-old amateur from Dallas.

Scheffler, a former U.S. Junior Amateur champion, only made it into the championship by the skin of his teeth, surviving a playoff at sectional qualifying.

He certainly made the most of his appearance in the second major of the year, at least for 18 holes, taking advantage of the benign conditions to card three birdies and two bogeys to return a one-under 69.

“My lag putting was really good and I made some good seven-eight-footers that kind of helped me keep the round going towards the end,” said Scheffler, who received plenty of moral support from his caddie, older sister Callie. “The experience, I can't even describe it right now, but I didn't really let the magnitude of what's going on get to me.

“I'm glad we got here a little early this week to kind of get used to everything because this is something I've never experienced before.”

Scheffler, who turns 20 next Tuesday, enjoyed a nine-hole practice round on Wednesday with defending champion Jordan Spieth, British Open champion Zach Johnson and recent Memorial tournament winner William McGirt, an experience that certainly helped him find his comfort zone.

“Zach showed me spots around the greens, Jordan also helped out and then William actually helped me out with the spikes, my shoes. I was kind of slipping around,” he said.

Scheffler admitted he rushed his final putt in an effort to beat the horn that sounded shortly afterwards stopping play for the day as bad weather approached, but he nonetheless sank the short par attempt, and now has the luxury of sleeping in on Friday.

“I wanted our group to get done so we didn't have to come back in the morning because we were up at 4:00 a.m. this morning,” he said.

“Some rest would be good tonight, and honestly, I really wanted to watch the (NBA) basketball game tonight. I wanted to get done so I could stay up late to watch that.”

(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina. Editing by Steve Keating)

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