2017 U.S. Open Day One: Rickie Fowler sets record in opener

Jun 15, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Rickie Fowler plays his shot from the tenth tee during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2017; Erin, WI, USA; Rickie Fowler plays his shot from the tenth tee during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Erin Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports /

Rickie Fowler took control of the U.S. Open early on a scoring-friendly Thursday at Erin Hills.

The U.S. Open isn’t known as golf’s toughest test for nothing. Early this week, players were complaining about ridiculously long fescue and Erin Hills’ greens being mountainous ice rinks. However, with some rain softening the course before play began on Thursday, scoring conditions were ripe and Rickie Fowler came away with tying a U.S Open record.

Fowler, who drew a fortunate early tee time for round one, teed off at 7:51 a.m local time with Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm. The Oklahoma State alum was on point from the start, making birdies on three of his first five holes to jump out to an early lead.

Three more birdies through the turn brought Fowler to 6-under for the day and one more on the par-5 seventh (Fowler began on No. 10) sealed the deal. Fowler had reasonable birdie shots on his last two holes, but even with pars, he had enjoyed the round of a lifetime.

The only other time a player began a U.S. Open at 7-under was in 1980, when both Tom Weiskopf and Jack Nicklaus did so at Baltusrol. The Golden Bear wound up winning that tournament, finishing the week at 8-under. If history is a teacher, that’s a very, very good sign for Fowler.

“You don’t get many rounds at the U.S. Open that are stress-free,” said Fowler, who missed just two fairways and three greens on Thursday. We’ll see if he can keep the streak alive with an early Friday tee time.

Paul Casey, Xander Schauffele and more in the hunt at Erin Hills

Fowler was clearly the star on Thursday, but he’s not that far gone from the pack just yet. As many as four or five other players had legit chances to match Fowler. At the end of the day, Paul Casey and Xander Schauffele carded six-under 66, just one off Fowler’s torrid pace.

Schauffele (pronounced shoff-lee) is the biggest surprise contender. The 352nd-ranked player in

Xander Schauffele U.S. Open 2017
May 6, 2017; Wilmington, NC, USA; Xander Schauffele hits his tee shot on four during the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Eagle Point Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

the world, Schauffele has made 10 of 17 PGA TOUR cuts this year, and is coming off a T-52 in Memphis last week. A graduate of the Web.com Tour, Schauffele is playing in his first major and is playing like nobody told him this was the U.S. Open.

Others looking to keep Fowler on his toes include Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Kevin Na. Apparently the fescue wasn’t bothering Na too badly on Thursday after all.

Here’s a look at the top ten from round one:

1 – Fowler, -7

T2 – Casey, -6

T2 – Schauffele, -6

T4 – Brian Harman, -5

T4 – Tommy Fleetwood, -5

T4 – Brooks Koepka, -5

T7 – Patrick Reed, -4

T7 – Kevin Na, -4

T7 – Marc Leishman, -4

T7 – Adam Hadwin, -4

“Big Four” struggle to find their rhythm at Erin Hills.

Here’s a fun fact from Thursday’s opening round at the U.S. Open, courtesy of Sean Martin of the PGA TOUR.

When all was said and done, amateurs Scottie Scheffler (-3) and Cameron Champ (-2) got the job done. Meanwhile, the only players in the world’s top 10 to post red numbers were Fowler and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia. The Spaniard opened his day with an eagle on the par-5 first, dropped back to even after 10, then fought back to finish where he started at two-under.

Unfortunately for the rest of the top ten, it was a mixed bag at best. Jason Day took the worst of it at seven-over for the round. Rory McIlroy played his first nine in level par, but a pair of double bogeys late sent him into the clubhouse with a 78.

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In the champions group, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson didn’t fare much better. The defending champio Johnson made the turn at +3, but couldn’t sink a birdie putt to save his life, making ten straight pars and finished in a tie for 102nd. Spieth’s story was similar on the greens, but he’s still tied for 61st at 1-over.

For fans of up-and-comer Jon Rahm, Thursday wasn’t a lot of fun either. Rahm was visibly mad on Thursday and it showed in his play. He’ll start play on Friday at +4 with his work cut out to ensure he plays the weekend.

With 54 holes left, it’s still almost anybody’s tournament. Will Fowler continue this run to history, or will someone take it from him?

Check back here for all the updates from Erin Hills this weekend.

Next: Ernie Els turns back the clock at the U.S. Open

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