The return to a basic U.S. Open course introduced again the sort of scoring that gave this main its fame.
Dustin Johnson performed a few of his finest golf Thursday and but the world’s No. 1 participant barely beat par within the treacherous wind at Shinnecock Hills. Johnson holed a bunker shot for birdie, saved his errors to a minimal and joined Ian Poulter, Scott Piercy and Russell Henley at 1-under 69 for a share of the lead.
“You needed to focus on each single shot you hit — putts, every thing,” Johnson mentioned. “It was simply troublesome all day.”
No want to inform that to Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and a lengthy listing of golf’s bests who had their hopes crushed in gusts that approached 25 mph that made fairways look extra slim and the shin-high tough troublesome to keep away from.
In his return to the U.S. Open after a two-year absence, Woods opened a main with a triple bogey for the primary time in 15 years. He added back-to-back double bogeys on the again 9 and staggered to a 78.
Spieth waited till the second gap to make a triple bogey, blasted out of a bunker and over the 11th inexperienced, after which took three pictures to get on the placing floor. McIlroy discovered bother nearly in all places and shot 80, his highest first-round rating in a main.
“It was fairly evident no person was making any birdies within the morning — heaps and many bogeys and ‘others,”‘ Woods mentioned. “My recreation plan was to not make any ‘others,’ and I made three of them. So did not do very effectively there.”
It was fairly a distinction from final 12 months at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, which set a document for the primary spherical by yielding 44 rounds below par.
Piercy, the final man within the 156-man field as an alternate from qualifying, was so disgusted along with his recreation in his remaining apply spherical that he walked off the course. He dropped solely two pictures, each on par 3s, and was the primary to publish a 69. Poulter additionally performed within the morning, whereas Johnson and Henley performed within the afternoon because the wind reached its full energy.
Henley was the one participant to achieve three below at any level, and he promptly gave that again with a double bogey on No. 10.
Jason Dufner opened with a 70, and even these at 1-over 71 felt as if they put in a laborious day’s work, a group that included Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson.
“It is a totally different sort of enjoyment, proper?” Rose mentioned. “I benefit from the battle. I benefit from the battle. I benefit from the grind, actually. If you get a bit minimize up and bruised, it may well change fairly fast.”
Not resistant to errors
Johnson is coming off a six-shot victory final week within the St. Jude Traditional, and whereas nobody has ever received the U.S. Open coming off a PGA Tour victory the week earlier than, he performed as if nothing had modified. He holed medium-length putts for birdies, a few nervy, quick putts for par and picked up a bonus when his shot from a entrance bunker on the par-Four eighth rattled and rolled into the cup.
Not even Johnson was immune from errors, nevertheless, dropping pictures on the 12th and 14th holes.
Canadians did not escape the carnage. MacKenzie Hughes is tied for 66th at 6-over, whereas Adam Hadwin and novice Garrett Rank each shot 83 and are tied for 148th at 13-over.
It did not take lengthy to determine what sort of check this was going to be, with the 15 flags atop the grandstand subsequent to the 18th inexperienced already flapping as the primary group teed off, and so they have been crackling by the afternoon.
Phil Mickelson, needing the U.S. Open to finish the Grand Slam, performed within the function grouping with Spieth and McIlroy. They completed a mixed 25-over par, with Mickelson taking honours at 77. It was his highest opening spherical in his 27 U.S. Opens. Mickelson refused a request to talk to the media about his spherical.
So did McIlroy, who had a pair of double bogeys in his third spherical of 80 or extra in a main.
Woods rapidly joined them.
From the center of the primary fairway, he went lengthy over the inexperienced. He chipped as soon as and it got here again to his ft. He tried it once more with the identical end result, after which rapped his putter up the hill by the opening and missed the putt. He held it collectively till a four-putt on No. 13, the final three of these putts from 6 ft.
“Shoot one thing within the 60s tomorrow, and I will be simply effective,” Woods mentioned. “I simply suppose right now was the hardest day we’ll have all week. However then once more, I feel they will let these greens agency out a little bit. They will begin to choose up a little little bit of pace, and will probably be a good U.S. Open once more.”
That already seems to be the case.
The U.S. Open has gone to new programs two of the final three years, and Jack Nicklaus is amongst those that feared it had misplaced its identification. Even with wider fairways, Shinnecock Hills resembled a U.S. Open course from previous years, and it performed like one.