(CNN) — It started with an overnight flight and a thunderstorm -- it finished with a place at the top end of the leaderboard.
Phil Mickelson would dearly love to win the U.S. Open having finished as runner-up on five separate occasions, but not even the lure of Merion was enough to keep him away from his daughter's eighth-grade graduation.
The four-time major champion missed the practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday to be with daughter Amanda in California before flying through the night on his private jet to Philadelphia.
Arriving in at 4.15am Thursday morning, Mickelson easily made his 7.11am tee time and produced his lowest round in the U.S. Open since 1999 with a three-under 67.
"I wish we did not have the delay because it made it a long day but the golf course is playing about as easy as it could, but Merion is fighting hard.
"It's one of the best I've seen for a US Open. It's soft but we are having a hard time getting under par."
Mickelson, 42, also insists his preparation for the tournament has not been undermined by spending time back in California.
He added: "When I was here the week before I was able to do all the work I needed, the last part was getting my game sharp so being able to do that in nice weather on a good practice facility was advantageous."
A three hour and 32 minute rain break meant an inauspicious start to the 113th U.S. Open, being hosted by Merion for the first time in 32 years.
The morning starters managed just 111 minutes of play before torrential rain hit the course and forced play to be suspended.
Meanwhile, Spain's Sergio Garcia revealed he was heckled by "a couple of guys" during his opening round of 73.
Woods took to Twitter to register his disappointment with the remarks, calling them "wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate."
The two men shook hands on Monday and Garcia has sent Woods a note, but the Spaniard confirmed he had yet to hear from the World No.1.
Woods teed off alongside the two men directly below him in the rankings -- 2011 winner Rory McIlroy and Masters champion Adam Scott.
Woods, 37 has not won a major since he won the U.S Open at Torrey Pines in 2008 where he defeated Rocco Mediate on a playoff while playing with a broken leg.
A 15th major victory would take him to within three of all-time record of 18 set by Jack Nicklaus, whose final triumph came at the 1986 Masters at Augusta.
Amongst the early finishers, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker all ended on one-over for the day after rounds of 71.