The U.S. Open teed off Thursday, three months later than usual. And although there were no fans in attendance, the players generated plenty of heat … if not a whole lot of applause. Here’s the rundown of the big storylines of Day 1:
Tender Winged Foot
All of the run-up to this year’s U.S. Open focused on just how tough Winged Foot was going to play. Scores will be in the triple digits, they said. Some golfers are going to lose limbs, they said. We’re expecting to lose some people to the deep rough, they said.
Turns out that, on Thursday at least, they were dead wrong. Justin Thomas broke the record for lowest score at a U.S. Open at Winged Foot by carding a tidy 65. The greens were soft and forgiving, and JT took advantage, spreading a six-birdie, one-bogey round over the field.
Three players — Patrick Reed, Thomas Pieters and Matthew Wolff — sit one stroke behind Thomas at -4. Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen are in striking range at -3. All in all, 21 players finished under par, not bad for a tournament that was supposed to have an over-par winner.
The entire field’s average was 72.6 — the best score in U.S. Open history. For an organization that guards par like the USGA, and a course that loves to test golfers like Winged Foot, that simply will not do. Expect the USGA to trick up the course over the next few days; if you didn’t score low on Thursday, you missed your best chance to do so.
There have only been 47 (or so, records are spotty) holes-in-one at the U.S. Open ever, but two of them were carded Thursday at the 165-yard seventh. Patrick Reed drilled his early, Will Zatoris followed him up late. It’s rare when you can walk from tee box to tee box, but it’s a good feeling.
(Good) shot of the day
Check out Zach Johnson’s putt on No. 1, weaving and bobbing like Lamar Jackson scrambling upfield:
(Bad) shot of the day
The Golf Gods have clearly come to collect on the debt Jordan Spieth owes them for all those majors. When your ball ends up wedged in a tree, you know it’s not your day:
Big names, big swings
Nobody honestly expected Tiger Woods to compete this week, but when he rolled in three birdies in a row in the middle of his round, you had to think, maybe…? He was reading greens like they were billboards, and for a moment, at least, we had some visions of Tigers Past:
It wouldn’t last. Woods went bogey-double bogey to finish his round, leaving him at +3, with only a 43.6 percent chance of making the cut.
Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson rolled into this U.S. Open the same way he always does: hoping to close out the career Grand Slam with a victory. (Someone even felt good enough about Phil’s chances to drop $45,000 on him with a potential $3.3 million payout.) Mickelson couldn’t buy his way onto a fairway early in his round, but still began with two birdies … and then immediately followed them up with three straight bogeys.
Mickelson was frankly pretty miserable all afternoon, finishing at +9 and now carrying a less-than-1 percent chance of making the weekend.
Quote of the Day, 1:
“I’m so sick of this.” —Mickelson, after splaying an approach shot at No. 9 all the way onto the first tee.
Quote of the Day, 2:
“Lunch, a little bit of practice and then a nap.” —Jason Kokrak on his plans for the day after a -2 round.
The U.S. Open continues Friday morning at 6:50 a.m. Eastern, with coverage starting on the Peacock app.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him with tips and story ideas at [email protected]
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