US Open: tall order after shock start for Rory McIlroy: overview and full scores from opening day at Erin Hills
RORY McIlroy's comments on the decision to cut down heavy rough at Erin Hills came back to haunt him as he struggled to an opening 78 in the 117th US Open.
Tall fescue grass on the fourth, 12th, 14th and 18th holes was being cut on Tuesday as McIlroy gave his pre-tournament press conference, which caught the 2011 champion by surprise.
"Really?" an incredulous McIlroy said. "They're the widest fairways we've ever played in a US Open. You've got 156 of the best players in the world here. If we can't hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home."
Unfortunately for McIlroy, he might well be doing just that on Friday afternoon, the 28-year-old following an eagle on the second - where he drove the green on the 330-yard par four - with four bogeys and double bogeys on the 15th and 17th.
McIlroy, who hit just five fairways to tie for last in the 156-man field in that category, said: "I don't think I hit a fairway from the 10th and you cannot play this golf course if you are not in position off the tee. I obviously paid the price today.
"The fairways should be wide enough for me to hit, it was just one of those days. My timing was just a little bit off. I started missing some left and tried to correct it and missed a couple right.
McIlroy won the US Open with a record 16-under-par total in 2011, but was a combined 50 over par for his seven other appearances before this week and missed the cut at Oakmont last year following rounds of 77 and 71.
The 28-year-old has played just six times this year due to a rib injury but added: "That was fine. I was hacking around in the rough and did not feel it once.
"I feel like I'm capable of a low score on Friday, I just need to get the ball on the fairway and give myself some chances for birdies."
But Rickie Fowler made light of the longest course in major championship history with a "stress-free" and record-equalling start to the 117th US Open.
Erin Hills had been set up to play to 7,845 yards in the first round, surpassing the record set at Chambers Bay in 2015 by 150 yards, but a combination of wide fairways and a course softened by previous thunderstorms helped Fowler card seven birdies in a flawless opening 65.
That equalled the lowest score in relation to par in the first round of a US Open - Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf both shot 63 in the first round on the par-70 layout at Baltusrol in 1980 - and left Fowler a shot clear of Xander Schauffele and Paul Casey.
TWEET OF THE DAY
"In a twist, the U.S. Open finished runner-up to Phil Mickelson's daughter this year." - ScottMichaux comments on six-time runner-up Phil Mickelson attending his daughter's high-school graduation instead of competing at Erin Hills.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Whoever chose the pin position on the 11th hole was not feeling too generous, with the hole cut just eight yards from the front of the green and five from the right edge.
However, Open champion Henrik Stenson - fresh from shooting 40 on the front nine - simply slam-dunked his approach into the cup for a nonchalant eagle two.
ROUND OF THE DAY
Fowler's 65 was "stress-free" according to the 28-year-old, who started from the 10th and birdied the 11th, 12th, 14th and 18th, before picking up three more birdies on the front nine.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I was teeing off on maybe number five and I looked up and saw it on fire and I felt sick to my stomach. I had the shakes. I felt terrible for the people inside. It was a horrible sight." - American Jamie Lovemark, who witnessed an advertising blimp crash nearby during the opening round.
STATISTIC OF THE DAY
Fowler was a combined 25 over par for his previous four rounds in the US Open, shooting 81 and 73 to miss the cut at Chambers Bay and 76 and 75 to make another early exit at Oakmont.
At 252 yards the par-three sixth hole proved the toughest with a scoring average of 3.385, thanks to just four birdies, 50 bogeys and seven double bogeys.
No surprises that the easiest hole was a par five, but at 632 yards the 18th was not supposed to be such a pushover.
Playing downwind meant the length was not much of an issue and a total of four eagles and 62 birdies resulted in a scoring average of 4.639.
England's Aaron Rai holed from six feet for one of the eagles after a brilliant approach from 290 yards.
ON THE UP
Kevin Na's popularity. Na's video of himself trying to hack out of the fescue grass during a practice round went viral and although the USGA denied being influenced by player complaints, a few days later they took a strimmer to some of the rough on four holes.
Na himself shot 68 and 44 players went on to break par on day one.
ON THE SLIDE
Defending champion Dustin Johnson is looking to make the first successful title defence since Curtis Strange in 1989, but struggled to an opening 75 containing a solitary birdie.
After missing the cut in the Memorial Tournament, the world number one has now made just three birdies in his last 54 holes.
?Collated first round scores in the U.S. Open, Erin Hills, Erin, Wisconsin, United States of America
(USA unless stated, par 72):
(a) denotes amateur
65 Rickie Fowler
66 Xander Schauffele, Paul Casey (Eng)
67 Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng), Brian Harman
68 Kevin Na, Marc Leishman (Aus), Adam Hadwin (Can), Patrick Reed
69 Andrew Johnston (Eng), (a) Scottie Scheffler, J.B. Holmes, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Si Woo Kim (Kor), Lee Westwood (Eng), Jamie Lovemark
70 Charley Hoffman, Brandon Stone (Rsa), (a) Cameron Champ, William McGirt, Derek Barron, Jack Maguire, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els (Rsa), Sergio Garcia (Spa), Brandt Snedeker, Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng)
71 Davis Love IV, Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Byeong-Hun An (Kor), Kevin Dougherty, Stephan Jaeger, Shane Lowry (Irl), Russell Henley, Ryan Brehm, Tyson Alexander, Zach Johnson, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa), Angel Cabrera (Arg), Harris English, Brendan Steele, Trey Mullinax, Jonathan Randolph
72 Branden Grace (Rsa), Gary Woodland, Martin Kaymer (Ger)
Bill Haas, Justin Rose (Eng), Martin Laird (Sco), Eddie Pepperell (Eng), Yusaku Miyazato (Jpn), Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa), Adam Scott (Aus), Roberto Diaz (Mex), Scott Piercy, George Coetzee (Rsa), Hideto Tanihara (Jpn), Keegan Bradley, Yuta Ikeda (Jpn)
73 Satoshi Kodaira (Jpn), Bud Cauley, Whee Kim (Kor), Aaron Rai (Eng), Justin Thomas, Daniel Miernicki, Daniel Summerhays, Jordan Spieth, Steve Stricker, Richie Ramsay (Sco), Chris Wood (Eng), Alex Noren (Swe), Michael Putnam, David Lingmerth (Swe), (a) Alex Smalley, (a) Maverick McNealy, (a) Mason Andersen, Cheng-Tsung Pan (Chn), Russell Knox (Sco), Jordan Niebrugge, Tyler Light
74 Francesco Molinari (Ita), Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Webb Simpson, Peter Uihlein, Chan Kim, Talor Gooch, Bryson De Chambeau, Kevin Kisner, Henrik Stenson (Swe), Bradley Dredge (Wal), Lucas Glover, Matt Kuchar, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Stewart Cink, Kevin Chappell, Haotong Li (Chn), Ted Potter, Jr., (a) Joaquin Niemann (Chi), Andres Romero (Arg), Troy Merritt
75 Jason Kokrak, Ross Fisher (Eng), Bubba Watson, Nick Flanagan (Aus), Chez Reavie, Dustin Johnson, Oliver Bekker (Rsa), Paul Dunne (Irl), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Brice Garnett, (a) Scott Gregory (Eng), (a) Christopher Crawford
76 Matt Wallace (Eng), Kyle Thompson, Emiliano Grillo (Arg), Wesley Bryan, Sean O'Hair, Shugo Imahira (Jpn), Jon Rahm (Spa), Roberto Castro, Corey Conners (Can), Pat Perez, Jason Dufner, Graeme McDowell (NIrl), Sam Ryder, Jeunghun Wang (Kor), Max Greyserman, Tyrrell Hatton (Eng), Thomas Pieters (Bel)
77 Andy Pope, Joel Stalter (Fra), (a) Stewart Hagestad, Sahith Theegala, Alexander Levy (Fra), Daniel Chopra (Swe), Jimmy Walker, Ben Kohles, Gene Sauers, Matthew Campbell, Gregory Bourdy (Fra), Jhonattan Vegas (Ven)
78 (a) Brad Dalke, JT Poston, Ryan Palmer, Roman Robledo, Daniel Berger, Rory McIlroy (NIrl), John Oda, (a) Scott Harvey
79 Jason Day (Aus), Billy Horschel
81 Brian Stuard, Danny Willett (Eng), (a) Lee Walker
83 Garrett Osborn