Rickie Fowler did it first, and then Xander Schauffele followed a short time later. Each posted a 62 in their first round at the U.S. Open, the lowest scores ever shot at the tournament.
Just to confuse the issue, however, Branden Grace of South Africa, also shot a 62, 8-under par, but it was in the third round of the 2017 British Open, not in the U.S. Open.
Both Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele played in the morning wave of golfers with Fowler finishing first.
“Got off to a nice start making three on 10 and just never really thought about a score or necessarily what I was trying to do out there,” Rickie Fowler said to media after his round. ( Fowler started on the back nine on Thursday.)
"“One of the big things for me is finally making a handful of mid-range putts,” said Rickie Fowler about shooting 62 at the U.S. Open."
Strangely, he did not have a particularly good warmup. That’s often the way with golfers, and no one knows why.
“I knew that the stuff that I worked on yesterday, both swing and putting, putting was great, range was so-so, which, a lot of times, you don’t want to go stripe it on the range. That’s just a bad sign,” Fowler added.
From the middle of his round to the 9th, which was his last hole, he said he didn’t see any scores, so he didn’t know where he stood in the tournament or where anyone else was.
“Then I saw that Xander was at 7 at that point, and I’m not sure if he even knew where I was or anything,” he said.
He did not think the round was perfect. A few shots headed right, but he looked at the bottom of the club to see where the tee mark was, and it was in the middle. So, he thinks he just didn’t release the club properly.
"“One of the big things for me is finally making a handful of mid-range putts, which I haven’t done in the past few weeks, and that was a big thing in keeping the round moving forward.”"
What looked like it would be his worst situation was on the 8th hole where he ended up in a barranca near a bridge, sort of behind a tree, with a significant amount of vegetation around and in front of him. However, there was space to hit it out.
"“Had a gap, had the bridge that was kind of low left,” he explained. “I took a club that I wanted to make sure I got it above the bridge just in case I pulled it at all. It was just a pitching wedge that I was trying to catch clean and kind of caught up against the wind.”"
Luckily for Rickie Fowler, 8 was one of the three par 5s on the course.
His drive went about 295 yards into the barranca, followed by the pitching wedge, which left him about 105 yards from the hole. His third shot landed a little over 13 feet from the hole, and amazingly he made his putt for a birdie.
Rickie Fowler had the record to himself for about 20 minutes until Schauffele finished, also with a 62.
“It’s not really what you expect playing a U.S. Open. But monkey see, monkey do,” Xander Schauffele said after his record round. “Was just chasing Rickie up the leaderboard.”
Xander Schauffele said the fact that the sun stayed behind the coastal fog, which Californians call the June Gloom because it happens every year at this time, helped the course play easier. It has happened at previous U.S. Opens, like in 2021 and 2000.
"“I think it made the greens sort of that more holeable speed almost, and then coming into greens you’re able to pull some wedges back,” he explained. “The fairways are a little bit softer, too, because of that sort of overcast, and without the sun out it’s not drying out much.”"
He said, like everybody who lives in California, he expects the sun to come out and dry things out a bit more. However, there have been many June rounds in U.S. Opens where it hasn’t happened.
Schauffele gave his caddie some credit for talking him out of shots or talking him into a different line.
On the 6th, for instance, Xander Schauffele was going to go left.
"“He was like, let’s go this way,” Schauffele said. “I kept going left, and he’s like, let’s go this way. It’s a credit to him. We always think we can get away with some ridiculous stuff out there, and sometimes it’s nice to have some help to talk you off the ledge.”"
“It’s rare to hit furniture into a few par-3s, and they moved a couple of the tees up today, so it’s just going to play different as the week goes on,” he added.
Both Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele play in the afternoon on Friday. Schauffele said he will spend the extra time picking apart what he didn’t do well today.
Golfers, apparently, are ridiculous perfectionists. When you shoot the lowest round ever in a U.S. Open, well, have a chocolate chip cookie and chillax. Maybe have two!
Previously, Johnny Miller was first to shoot a 63 in the U.S. Open, which at the time was also 8-under par, and was the lowest score ever in a major. Since Miller’s 63, his score was matched 37 additional times.
However, he was the only golfer to shoot a 63 in the final round to win until Henrik Stenson did it at the 2016 British Open.
Brooks Koepka, Vijay Singh, and Greg Norman are the only players to shoot 63 twice in majors.