US Open: Rickie Fowler units first-round tempo as Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy wrestle


Rickie Fowler made gentle of the longest course in main championship historical past with a “stress-free” and record-equalling begin to the 117th US Open.

Erin Hills had been set as much as play to 7,845 yards within the first spherical, surpassing the file set at Chambers Bay in 2015 by 150 yards, however a mix of broad fairways and a course softened by earlier thunderstorms helped Fowler card seven birdies in a flawless opening 65.

That equalled the bottom rating in relation to par within the first spherical of a US Open, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf having each shot 63 within the first spherical on the par-70 structure at Baltusrol in 1980.

“It is at all times cool to be a part of some kind of historical past in golf, however I would quite be remembered for one thing that is performed on Sunday,” mentioned Fowler, who completed within the high 5 in all 4 majors in 2014 however has but to win one of many sport’s greatest prizes.

“I did not see seven below in the beginning of the week, however immediately is the most effective we’re going to get. I simply saved making putts when it mattered.

“It was nice. You don’t get many rounds at the US Open that are stress-free. I knew I needed to drive it well and from there was just able to manage hitting and continuing to swing well and hitting good shots and rolling a couple in.”

Fowler, 28, who was 25 over par for his earlier 4 rounds within the US Open, ended the day a shot forward of compatriot Xander Schauffele and England’s Paul Casey, with Tommy Fleetwood, Brian Harman and Brooks Koepka a shot additional again.

Lee Westwood, who’s searching for his first main title on the 77th try, carded a 69 which was matched by compatriot Andrew Johnston, however defending champion and world primary Dustin Johnson struggled to a three-over-par 75.

And Rory McIlroy, who mentioned gamers may as effectively “pack your baggage and go residence,” if they may not hit the broad fairways, discovered simply 5 of them and slumped to a 78, regardless of having eagled the second by driving the inexperienced on the 330-yard par 4.

Casey has recorded three consecutive top-six finishes within the Masters, however has only one top-10 within the US Open in 13 makes an attempt.

“I would have snapped your arm off for six under,” mentioned the 39-year-old, who chipped in for an eagle on the primary and added six birdies and two bogeys.

“I watched Rickie this morning and hoped and praying if I might get the identical type of situations I might be half pretty much as good as Rickie Fowler, so to be proper behind him I am ecstatic.

“This was a fun low round. I don’t know that I’ve ever played a US Open where I’ve had that much enjoyment.”

Fleetwood has made the minimize in simply one in all his seven main appearances up to now, however the 26-year-old from Southport made a really perfect begin with a birdie on his opening gap and added 4 extra in a superb placing show.

“The course was as receptive as it’s going to be but I never really tried to make a birdie, they just seemed to happen along the way,” mentioned Fleetwood, who completed second behind Johnson within the WGC-Mexico Championship earlier this season and misplaced in a play-off within the Shenzhen Worldwide in April.

“But towards the end I holed some great putts for par. No matter how fast you start or how many birdies you make, the pars are the ones that keep you in it. You don’t really think about shooting five under at the US Open. Seven under is ridiculous.”

Westwood’s 69 was simply the third time the previous world primary has damaged 70 within the first spherical of the US Open, together with his lowest rating of 67 coming final yr.

“I played great,” mentioned the 44-year-old, who shot 80 when enjoying with eventual winner Johnson within the last spherical at Oakmont. “I missed one fairway, one inexperienced and that was the double bogey (on the 12th).

“My short game was great at Wentworth (in the BMW PGA Championship) but my ball-striking is really coming back to its best now and if I keep going then there’s no reason I can’t be in contention on Sunday.”

The dry climate meant that Phil Mickelson missed the US Open for the primary time since 1993 with the intention to attend his daughter’s high-school commencement.

Solely a prolonged climate delay – and there have been a number of already this week – would have given the five-time main winner an opportunity of being on the ceremony after which flying by personal jet from California to Wisconsin.

However when play began in excellent situations, Mickelson knowledgeable USGA government director Mike Davis he wouldn’t be capable to compete and first alternate Roberto Diaz took his place. Diaz carded a level-par 72.