– Troy Merritt stood at 4 over par through 10 holes during the first U.S. Open round of his career.

He closed with two birdies in his last eight holes, leaving him at 2-over 74 entering Friday's second round, with a chance to make the cut.

Born in Iowa, Merritt attended Spring Lake Park High and spent two years at Winona State. He transferred to Boise State and lives in Idaho, but will make a rare return to Minnesota on Monday for an event with his father's company. Mark Merritt is a sales rep for the Tilsner Carton Company/Meridian Display in St. Paul.

Erin Hills is officially the longest course in U.S. Open history.

"I really haven't played any courses this long, besides Torrey Pines and Hazeltine National," Merritt said. "But it's not like either of those. It's a lot more forgiving off the tee and a lot more penal for bad shots. It's still very fair.

"I hit the ball OK [Thursday]. I had 15 looks at birdies. They weren't really good ones."

Merritt, 31, is competing in his fourth major. He tied for 54th at the 2015 PGA, tied for 42nd at the 2016 Masters and missed the cut at the 2016 PGA.

He has one PGA Tour victory, the Quicken Loans National in 2015. He beat Rickie Fowler by three strokes in that tournament.

"I expect this course to gradually get tougher," he said. "I have the second tee time off [Friday] and hopefully we can have some of those numbers that were put up this morning."

JIM SOUHAN