Chez Reavie arrived at Congressional Country Club with all the accoutrements of his fellow players. The clubs, balls, golf bag, shoes and apparel may not have been identical to that of some more established touring professionals, but for plying his trade, they suited him just fine.

What does set Reavie apart from every other participant in the U.S. Open field is that he doesn’t have an ACL. It went missing in high school, when Reavie, 29, tore it but never had it repaired. The absence of that ligament in his right knee, however, barely affected his golf game thereafter, or at least he never demonstrated as much after being named all-American three times at Arizona State and winning the 2001 U.S. Public Links championship.

Reavie even managed to win the Canadian Open in 2008, but two years later, his knee gave out again—a torn meniscus—following the Byron Nelson Classic in May. This time Reavie decided to have surgery, and after six months of rehabilitation, he came back to the tour this year with the goal of maintaining his exempt status.

“If I had an ACL, I wouldn’t have torn my meniscus,” said Reavie, who shot 1-under 70 as part of the first group off the No. 1 tee this morning that included Dae Hyun Kim and Shane Lowry.

Reavie’s strong early showing at the U.S. Open comes four tournaments after he tied for fifth at Colonial to earn $235,600, his biggest payday since winning the Canadian Open. He’s already made the cut in 7 of 14 tournaments this season after playing into the weekend in 6 of 15 last year.

“It was great on the front,” Reavie said. “We just played at our own pace, and we didn’t have to play fast at all. We tried to make sure we gave ourselves plenty of time, and it ended up perfect at the turn. The group ahead of us was on the green, so we kind of just fit right in the puzzle there.”