The 123rd U.S. Open kicked off Thursday morning and has delivered enough exciting storylines to fill four rounds, let alone the first. History has been made not once but twice and from abnormally low U.S. Open scores to aces and clutch shots, players did not deliver a shortage of highlight reels.
Schauffele Spoils Fowler’s Party
Rickie Fowler’s round one score of 62 set the record for the lowest round ever at the US Open, breaking Jack Nicklaus’ 63 shot at the 1980 U.S. Open. Fowler’s 62 also tied the record for the lowest major round of all time, held by Branden Grace from the third round of the 2017 Open Championship.
Fowler’s record-breaking opening round included ten birdies and just two bogeys. The 34-year-old has had his share of struggles and inconsistency on the course over the last several years, but has seemed to find a steady stream of success this season as he climbs back up the Official World Golf Ranking, where he currently sits at 45.
Fowler entered the top 50 for the first time in two years after a successful round at the Charles Schwab Challenge in May.
Before the ink could dry on Rickie’s scorecard, he found himself in record-breaking company with Xander Schauffele’s tying 62. Schauffele had a 28-foot putt on nine but settled for par to add his name next to Fowler’s in golf history.
Schauffele’s round remained bogey-free, the first time for the California native since the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
U.S. Open Purists Beware, The Players are Going Low
While they were the only two to make history with their low rounds, Fowler and Xander Schauffele were not the only players going low and making headlines.
At what is supposed to be one of the most challenging tests in golf, round one of the 123rd U.S. Open saw several players record 67s on the day, including Bryson DeChambeau, Scottie Scheffler, Si Woo Kim, and former amateur golfer Sam Bennett, whose heroics at The Masters won’t soon be forgotten.
Rory McIlroy finished with a 65 in the tournament’s opening round and Wyndham Clark and Dustin Johnson both shot a matching 64.
The U.S. Open is a historically challenging test for players, meant to give a man v. nature (or rather, player v. course) environment. After all, only six scores of 63 have been recorded in U.S. Open history, up to today.
Cooler than usual Los Angeles temperatures and a marine layer (giving Southern California the ‘June Gloom’ appearance the last two months) along with early Thursday morning rain have softened the greens. Wide open fairways have also contributed to the low rounds.
Clouds are expected Friday morning, which will then turn to sunshine for the afternoon. Conditions for low rounds rarely stay and the course should be giving out fewer ultra-low scores throughout the weekend, otherwise, the U.S. Open purists may just take a word up with the course superintendent.
Rack ‘Em Up- Two Aces on 15
DP World Tour member and French player Matthieu Pavon was the first player to record a hole-in-one for the tournament, an anticipated feat with the courses’ many par-threes.
Later, Sam Burns joined the club with his ace on the 124-yard par-3. The five-time PGA Tour winner used a sand wedge, which he promptly tossed in the air in celebration, amping up the crowd who excitedly cheered him on in what was his first ace on tour. Burns finished the day -1 at T25.
More opportunities await for more ace celebrations over the course of the tournament at the par-three 15th hole, so long as the players hit the right shot.
Hovland’s Hole out for Eagle
In what made for a replay-worthy highlight that deserves to sit next to the two aces of the opening round, Viktor Hovland eagled from the fairway 165-yards out on the second hole. The eagle got Hovland back under par, where he ultimately finished at -1 and T25 as well.
The exciting hole-out from Hovland was part of a slightly tumultuous round from the Norwegian and recent Memorial Tournament winner, as he recorded a double-bogey on the par-five 14th and back-to-back bogeys on the par-three fourth hole and par-four fifth hole.
Round two of the 123rd U.S. Open kicks off Friday morning with the first group teeing off at 9:45 a.m. ET.; and one can only hope that the excitement from the first round carries over into Friday.