US Open: Highs and lows of day one

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Did you go to bed before the final group had finished? Didn’t manage to stay up to see Tiger post an 80? Or Rickie’s 81? With the final groups not finishing the US Open until 4am GMT, here’s our recap of the highs and lows from an interesting first round at Chambers Bay in the US Open…

THE HIGHS

Dustin Johnson
DJ made six birdies in all and had a shot at matching or breaking the US Open scoring record until a disappointing par on the par-5 eighth and his lone bogey on the par-3 ninth, his final hole of the day (despite an astonishing wall of death chip to about 10 feet). His 65 was his low career round at a US Open and it puts him in great shape to contend for his first major title.

Phil Mickelson

 A pre-tournament favourite after finding some form coming into Chambers Bay, Lefty didn’t disappoint. He got as low as three under at one point, until consecutive bogeys on the back nine derailed his round somewhat. Yet he finished the day under par after a 69, which means he’s well in with a shout of winning the major in which he’s finished an astonishing six times.

Henrik Stenson
A decent first round became a fantastic one as Stenson birdied four of his final five holes to match Johnson with an opening 65 on top of the leader board. A hot putter was one of the main reasons, but he’ll be confident he can carry on that form on a course that rewards his crisp ball striking.

The course
It’s a brutal walk, inaccessible to many spectators, with ropey putting surfaces. Yet Chambers Bay, with its dramatic back drop and amply fairways, allowed players to be aggressive and even make birdies, while still facing the prospect of a big number when off the mark. Admittedly it probably played as easy as it will all week in the opening round… Let’s see what the USGA has in store for the weekend if they get any more 65s…

THE LOWS
The greens
Sergio Garcia always wears his heart on his sleeve, but when other players – including Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson – start saying the same things, there’s only one conclusion – Chambers’ greens are poor. Garcia said the U.S. Open “deserves better” on Twitter, adding he was the only one with the guts to tell it like it is. McIlroy, more diplomatically said: “They are not the best that I’ve ever putted on.” The bad news for them and the rest of the field is that with wear and tear, the greens are probably only going to get worse.

Rory McIlroy
Rory’s putting continues to be a weak link as he missed several putts inside 5-10 feet, including two bogeys over his last three holes for a 2-over 74. “I made a couple of bad strokes coming in, which costed me a couple shots.” Rory has never won an event in the US after opening with an over-par round.

Bubba Watson
Bubba shot an even-par 70, but his body language suggested he shot 80. He was exasperated by the pace of play, saying: “Waiting 30 minutes,” he said on camera on No. 18. “This is pathetic.” If he’s going to contend, he’s just going to have to suck it up.

Rickie Fowler
Just a month after his breakthrough win at the Players, Fowler, was a popular pick to go well this week. Ah… Fowler had a terrible stretch on the front nine in which he went double-bogey-double-triple. His only highlight was nearly making an ace on the par-4 12th, after driving the green and watching the ball roll to a couple of inches back down the slope.

Tiger Woods

 When Tiger hit his first fairway in an event for the first time in six starts this year, but his quick swing with an his approach sent the ball into the deep hay right of the green. Bogey ensued, and it only got worse form there. He made further bogeys on Nos. 3, 4 and 6 and a bogey-bogey-bogey-triple bogey stretch on the back to give Woods an 80, his worst score ever as a pro at the US Open by four shots. It’s now been seven years since Woods last won a major championship and after just one round, it seems pretty safe to say that drought won’t end this week.

 

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