Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Rickie Fowler leads US Open on day of highs and lows

Paul Casey1 The Latest: Willett withdraws with back injury
Vera Richards | 17 June, 2017, 07:48

McIlroy, just recently back from an injury, looked rusty and when you're not at your best at the US Open, it usually ends in a bad way for you, just like it did for the Irishman in this first round. But with the galleries firmly behind him ("I think everybody's rooting for us", he said), he fired a one-under 71, thanks in part to some advice from his dad.

McIlroy joked earlier in the week that anyone who couldn't hit such wide fairways "might as well pack your bags and go home". He has an early one-shot edge at the 117th U.S. Open. "But I like the way this golf course suits me, and we're off to a good start". "Obviously, I paid the price for it today". World No. 1 and defending champion Dustin Johnson, who on Monday became a father for the second time, never got going during his round of 75. Fowler took advantage of Erin Hills' four Par 5s, all of which he birdied, including two which game back-to-back as Fowler registered three straight birdies as he made the turn. 18, 1 and 2-as he matched a U.S. Open record for the lowest first-round score in relation to par. "But I'd rather be remembered for something that's done on Sunday".

Elsewhere, former victor Justin Rose could be tempting from the early starters with him likely to grind out a score against Jason Day and Rory McIlroy after the latter duo produced some toxic stuff on day one.

Rahm finished with a four-over 76 but he wasn't the only headliner to struggle; in fact, as many amateurs finished in red numbers as did top-10 players in the world.

Jordan Spieth shot 73 Thursday while playing in a group that featured the Open's past three champions.

Fowler is at No. 9 in the world ranking.

South African Ernie Els' caddie Cayce Kerr talking about the Big Easy's opening round of two-under 70. For most others, like Henrik Stenson, it was being careless off the tee and facing the rigorous test of recovering.

Australian Adam Scott recovered from a poor start, with two birdies and an eagle in his last four holes, to card a level-par 72.

"I have to be a little bit more aggressive and try shoot a low score", Day said.

Newly branded as the "ultimate test in golf", the U.S. Open has always been famed for its toughness and Erin Hills, the longest ever layout for a U.S. Open, was expected to add to that hard-man reputation.

The birdie streak finally ended with a bogey at the sixth, where he three-putted from 96 feet at the 252-yard par-3. The 44 players who broke par in the opening round set a U.S. Open record that had stood since there were 39 subpar rounds at Medinah in 1990.

A small blimp crashed near the U.S. Open on Thursday, seriously injuring the pilot and grabbing the attention of fans and golfers alike as they watched the fiery, smoking craft fall from the sky into an open field.

Fox Sports broadcast footage of an explosion from the downed blimp, which was operated by AirSign, an aerial advertising firm with operations across the United States.

American Jamie Lovemark, who saw the crash while compiling an opening 69, said: "I was teeing off on maybe number five and I looked up and saw it on fire and I felt sick to my stomach. If the rain stays away and the wind picks up, this golf course is going to be a beast".

And Casey was joined at the end of play by compatriot Tommy Fleetwood, and USA duo Brooks Koepka and Brian Harman on seven under par.

That's when he made a birdie at the par-5 18th hole. He chopped that one out above the ridge of the green and three-putted for double bogey.

"Definitely not U.S. Open-like", Marc Leishman said.

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