Australian Nick O’Hern had the late shift for Thursday’s first round of the Open and carved up the links, firing a 9-under par, 62 to claim the lead at San Martin’s CordeValle Golf Club.

O’Hern, whose best showing of 2012, a tie for third at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June, had a run of six birdies in seven holes and birdied his final hole of the afternoon to tie the tournament course record.

Jhonattan Vegas went to work early and had the lead in the clubhouse much of the afternoon before O’Hern swung into action.

Vegas, a native of Venezuela who has two top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour in 2012, was one of the first on the course Thursday morning and posted seven birdies – four through his first five holes on the front nine – and one bogey (par-5, 15th) on the day.

“It was definitely a phenomenal round today,” Vegas said. “It was really the best, solid round I’ve had all year…”

Ironically, much like last year, overcast skies and the occasional rain shower greeted the 132-player field during Thursday’s opening round. Also similar to 2011, weather through the weekend looks to be ideal golf conditions.

“You know, the conditions are tough out there,” Vegas added. “You got to stay super calm. I mean, you get a little bit rowdy you can make a lot of bogeys out here.”

Nicolas Colsaerts, a member of this year’s European Ryder Cup team, also posted a 65 to position himself in a tie for second.

Derek Ernst added his name to the trio knotted at 6-under with an eagle on No. 18 to sign off on his 65.

Charles Howell III pieced together five birdies in a six-hole stretch on the front nine and finished with a 5-under, 66.

“I got hot with the putter on the first nine holes, so (I) made a few birdies there,” Howell said. “It was a good day.”

John Mallinger, who played a bogey-free round, began his day on the back nine. He concluded his afternoon with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 ninth hole.

Late in the day, Jonas Blixt, Greg Owen and Gary Woodland joined Howell and Mallinger in the group at 5-under tied for fifth.

• Defending champion Bryce Molder shot even par

• Full leaderboard here.

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