US OPEN 2017: Rickie Fowler sets the early pace on day 1

Published:

Rickie Fowler opened with a seven-under-par 65 to equal the best opening-round to par at the US Open since Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf in 1980. 

Fowler is up there on the list of best players never to have won a major, and he was tipped as a big favourite this week thanks to a string of good results leading in to the second major of the year.

And while players are faced with the longest golf course in US Open history and tough fescue that has already been a huge talking point, Fowler seemed to be dialed in and unphased. 

He began the day on the 10th hole, and birdied the 11th, 12th and 14th holes to get to the top of the leaderboard, where he was soon joined by Brian Harman. 

During his flawless round was a near-eagle chance on the 18th (his ninth hole) as he hit a 340 yard drive followed by a 285 yard fairway on the tough par 5 - walking off with a tap in birdie and a share of the lead with a four-under front-nine of 32.

The World No.9 made it three in a row by birdieing both his 10th and 11th holes, and carding a final gain on his 16th hole (the 7th) to put himself two-shots clear of Tommy Fleetwood, Brian Harman and Brooks Koepka.

"It was still tough, you had to hit the fairway. I was able to drive it fairly well during the start of the day," Fowler said.

"As the wind picked up I was able to continue that. I've been swinging well all week, I feel like Butch and I got the right little tune up on Monday and i've been able to run with it."

"I'm in a good spot mentally and a good spot physically as well. The game plan is to drive it well and get it in the fairway as much as possible."

Rickie Fowler par 5 18th hole
Speaking after his round, Fowler admitted that he is not content with making history on day one - and would rather finally get the monkey off his back as he hopes to contend for his first major title.  

“It’s always cool to be part of some kind of history in golf,” said Fowler. “But I’d rather be remembered for something that’s done on a Sunday.

“There are a lot of really good players out here that haven’t won a major. So it would be nice to get rid of that at some point. I’m not saying that this is the week or isn’t the week but I like the way this course suits me.”

Paul Casey and US Open rookie Xander Schauffele sit in joint second on six-under-par, with Schauffele missing two birdie attempts on his final two holes to miss out on being up with Fowler.

Brian Harman, Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood are a further shot back on five-under par, while Patrick Reed, Adam Hadwin, Kevin Na and Marc Leishman make up the remainder of the top 10 on four-under.

Elsewhere, it was a frustrating day for the past three US Open champions. Defending champion Dustin Johnson finished with a disappointing three-over-par 75, as his playing partners Jordan Spieth (+1) and Martin Kaymer (E) also had a frustrating day at Erin Hills.

Spieth began the day with a birdie on his second hole of the day (the 11th), but back-to-back birdies on the 4th and 5th holes during his back nine and a serious of near-misses left him settling with a one-over 73, as Kaymer ended the day at level par.

The most surprising results came from the group of Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose. Jason Day had four birdies and two triple bogeys on his way to a seven-over par 79, while McIlroy was just one better with six bogeys on his back nine for a 78.