Rickie Fowler set a white-hot pace but Australia’s Marc Leishman has put himself into contention at the US Open at Erin Hills with an opening 68.
Leishman, who has already won once on tour this season, made five birdies and a single bogey in his opening round, the best of the afternoon scores.
He is tied-fifth, three shots behind the first-round leader, Fowler, who rattled around the Wisconsin course in seven-under with seven birdies and no flaws.
It was an encouraging start for Leishman, the Australian world No.35, but world No.3 Jason Day had a calamitous front nine that ruins his chances. Day had two triple bogeys from the infamous fescue grass – the first time ever that he has recorded two triples in a single round in a tour event – and was seven-over par through 14 holes.
World No.12 Adam Scott also battled a little, starting his day with a missed putt from well inside a metre on the par-five first, sliding to four-over at one point on the front nine but clawing his way back to two-over through 17 holes.
South Australia’s Wade Ormsby had a nice round going in his first major appearance, but made double bogeys at two of his last three holes to finish with a 75. New South Welshman Nick Flanagan was three-over par through 16 holes.
1️⃣2️⃣ of 1️⃣4️⃣ fairways hit.
Rickie Fowler credits a shorter driver for his accuracy off the tee in Round 1.pic.twitter.com/TuxloZeiYP
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 15, 2017
Conditions were good and the course did not prove as horrendously difficult as some of the players had forecast. Leishman’s high point came at the par-four fifth hole where he holed out with a wedge shot from 70 metres for birdie after driving into the deep fescue grass left of the fairway and needing to hack it out.
He hit an iron in close at the 10th for another birdie and then curled a left-to-righter from mid-range into the cup at the 12th reach five-under, joint-second, before finding the fescue again on the 17th and dropping his only shot of the day.
Fowler equalled the lowest first-round to par in US Open history, joining Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf who had seven-under in the 1980 Open at Baltusrol. The 28-year-old Fowler, still seeking his first major, hit 15 of the 18 greens in regulation and did not register a single bogey.
He leads by two shots from American Brooks Koepke and Brian Harman along with Englishman Tommy Fleetwood, who all had five-under par 67s.
“You don’t get many rounds at the U.S. Open that are stress-free,” Fowler said. “Just did a good job, knew I needed to drive it well, and from there, [I was] just able to manage hitting and continuing to swing well, rolling a couple in.
“So, simple day when you look back on it, and how we kind of pieced our way around the golf course. A lot easier said than done.”
The course humbled a few of the top-ranked players. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson started with a 75. Phil Mickelson withdrew to attend his daughter’s high school graduation.