US Open: Rickie Fowler and Others Struggle Through the 1st Round


Jun 18, 2015; University Place, WA, USA; Rickie Fowler hits his tee shot on the 2nd hole in the first round of the 2015 U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The 2015 US Open kicked off today, and soft conditions provided the opportunity for some lower-than-expected scores. There were those who didn’t take advantage of the favorable conditions however, and they missed an opportunity.

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The weather should remain dry for the remainder of the tournament, which means that the links style course at Chambers Bay will be rolling doubles and triples onto scorecards. Among the names that struggled were the defending champion Martin Kaymer, up and comer Brooks Koepka, and America’s sweetheart Rickie Fowler.

Let’s look at why expectations were high, and maybe too high, for these players and where their rounds went wrong.

I propose a question: How does a player rank 19th in the World Golf Rankings, and 160th in the FedEx Cup standings at the same time? Have the best year of your career in 2014, then win the first tournament of the season the following year? Follow that up with a top 10 finish at the World Golf Championships, and Martin Kaymer was off to the races in 2015.

But this is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of world, and Kaymer hasn’t done much. Since that hot start, Kaymer hasn’t broken the top 30 and has missed the cut in 3 of his last 5 tournaments.

Still, he’s had success with links golf in the past when he won the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Last years Open at Pinehurst had similar qualities to Chambers Bay, and you would have thought the former world #1 was bound for a comeback tour. However, a 2 over par opening round has left Kaymer with a lot of ground to gain. We’ll see if he can place a score on Friday and spend the weekend in the Evergreen State after all.

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  • Brooks Koepka might have been a long shot to the casual fan even though he finished 3rd at the FedEx St. Jude Classic last week. When he won earlier this year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, he used his length of the tee to run fast the field. And whenever I see a long ball hitter at a links style course, I think birdies and eagles.

    However, Koepka missed 5 greens in regulation during his opening round 72. On a course with tricky greens like Chamber Bay, it is critical to be putting with a chance for birdie or better, and Koepka didn’t do that today. We’ll see if he can use some of that length and kick in a decent score for the weekend push on Friday.

    Oh Rickie, sweet Rickie, why do you hurt me so? Fowler came into the tournament swinging a hot set of sticks, with the biggest win of his career coming at the PLAYERS back in May.

    As a fan favorite and American poster boy, we all hoped that Fowler might even the international scales at OUR tournament. Europeans have won 8 of the last 11 US Opens, and this aggression would not stand if Pretty Rickie had anything to say about it.

    Maybe the expectations were set too high. Fowler’s never been a long ball hitter, but surely his short game would make up for that defect in his game. Well so far in his round he’s missed 6 of 11 greens in regulation. Scratch that advantage. Maybe his scrambling and putting capabilities will carry him to the top of the US Open. He was dead last in putting throw 11 holes while I was watching. Exit stage right? Or left? (That always confused me.)

    No, Mr. Fowler is having “one of those days” at Chambers Bay so far. But wait, a glimmer of hope? As I’m typing, Fowler misses an double eagle at the par 4 12th hole with a majestic drive. He utilized the slope of the ever tricky greens and missed an albatross by inches. The story of his round/tournament? Or a twinkle of hope and a sign of things to come? Time will tell.

    Next: The 2015 US Open: Five Early Impressions