RICKIE FOWLER set a blistering pace in the first round of the 2017 US Open with a record equalling 7-under 65 whilst the Aussies had various fortunes as Erin Hills debuted as a major venue.
The 28 year old Fowler may not be in the ‘best player not to win a major’ category for much longer but he would be the last to say his bogey free round has him over the line.
“It was nice. You don’t get many rounds at the U.S. Open that are stress-free,” Fowler said after his morning round, which at close of play saw him a stroke ahead of England’s Paul Casey and American Xander Schauffele.
“It’s a lot easier said than done. Still missed some putts that I had opportunities out there, but it’s just nice to go out and actually execute the game plan.”
His opening round in relation to par match the US Open record mark set by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf (both 7-under 63 at Baltusrol in 1980).
Leishman (68) got to five under before a bogey on the 17th saw him finished tied third along with three others, including Kevin Na, the golfer who attracted lots of attention before the event with his video “ridiculing” the long fescue rough.
Ironically, Na (who now says his video was tongue-in-cheek) spent most of his round in the middle of the fairway while Rory McIllroy, who was scathing at complaints about the rough, saying the fairways were so wide the world’s best golfers should be hitting them or packing up and going home, spent most of his round knee deep in the stuff.
He wasn’t alone there with the world top six ranked players managing a combined 21 over par – defending champion Dustin Johnson was 3-over, McIlroy 6-over, Jason Day 7-over, Hideki Matsuyama Along with Dustin Johnson (+3), Rory McIlroy (+6), Hideki Matsuyama 2-over, Jordan Spieth 1-over and Henrik Stenson 2-over.
That was on a day when 60 players fired par or better.
Day, a favoured to win by many started and finished with birdies but in between it wasn’t pretty, including two triple bogies – a first in his tour career.
Adam Scott also looked gone, missing an 18 inch putt on the first and dropping to 4-over by the 14 but then finished birdie-birdie-par-eagle, including an unlikely putt from off the green on the last.
South Australia’s Wade Ormsby (75) and New South Welshman Nick Flanagan (75) both had decent rounds going but stumbled late.
Lesihman, Scott and Day should have the better of conditions with their morning starts in the second round. Leishman and Scott are on the right trajectory for the weekend while Day could do with a couple of Fowler-like scores to get back in the game.
2017 US Open 1st Round Highlights Video