Fowler leads U.S. Open’s first round

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY DOUG FERGUSON

ERIN, WIS. | Erin Hills made its de­but as a U.S. Open course Thurs­day with a most gra­cious wel­come for Rickie Fowler, who matched the record to par in the open­ing round with a 7-un­der 65 on the long­est course in ma­jor cham­pi­onship his­tory.

Fowler had a one-shot lead over Paul Casey and Xan­der Schauf­fele. And they plenty of com­pany.

The low scor­ing sug­gested the 11-yearold course was a cream puff, hardly the USGA’s idea of the ul­ti­mate test in golf.

Just don’t men­tion that to some of the best play­ers in the world.

Ja­son Day had two triple bo­geys and posted a 79, his worst score ever in the U.S. Open. Rory McIl­roy joked ear­lier in the week that any­one who couldn’t hit such wide fairways “might as well pack your bags and go home.” He spent all day in the knee-high fes­cue and shot 78, his worst U.S. Open score.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Dustin John­son prob­a­bly didn’t feel so badly by the end of a most pe­cu­liar day. He only shot 75, with just one birdie.

“You won’t get a bet­ter day for scor­ing,” John­son said wist­fully dur­ing the long walk to sign his card.

No one took ad­van­tage like Fowler. Fowler, who shared the 36-hole lead at the Masters in April, never came se­ri­ously close to bo­gey be­cause he was never in trou­ble. He kept it in the short grass, the se­cret to Erin Hills that wouldn’t ap­pear to be that dif­fi­cult with some of the widest fairways for this ma­jor.

“You don’t get many rounds at the U.S. Open that are stress-free,” Fowler said.

Fowler’s seven birdies were from no more than 12 feet, in­clud­ing three in a row around the turn. His 7-un­der par tied the record to par for the first round of a U.S. Open held by Jack Nick­laus and Tom Weiskopf, who each shot 7-un­der 63 at Bal­tus­rol in 1980.

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

Day and McIl­roy, just to name a few, might not make it that far.

Of the top 10 play­ers in the world, only Masters cham­pion Ser­gio Gar­cia (70) and Fowler broke par. For play­ers like Jor­dan Spi­eth (73) and John­son, it was a mat­ter of not mak­ing enough putts. For most oth­ers, it was be­ing care­less off the tee and fac­ing the rig­or­ous test of re­cov­er­ing.

Casey started ea­gle-birdie and fin­ished with two birdies over the fi­nal four holes for his 66.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rickie Fowler matched the record for par in the open­ing round of the U.S. Open Thurs­day with a 7-un­der 65. Fowler had seven birdies from no more than 12 feet.

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