Fowler holds first-round lead at U.S. Open
ERIN, Wis.—Rickie Fowler birdied three of his first five holes Thursday and kept rolling en route to a 7-under 65 and a one-shot lead after the first round of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
Fowler finished his bogey-free round with seven birdies—including three straight at Nos. 18, 1 and 2—as he matched a U.S. Open record for the lowest first-round score in relation to par. Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf shot 7-under 63s at Baltustrol Golf Club in 1980. Fowler's 65 represents the second-lowest first-round score in tournament history.
Fowler entered the week in search of his first major championship. He finished 11th at the Masters in April, two months after he recorded his fourth career PGA Tour victory by capturing the Honda Classic.
Fowler enters Friday's second round with a one-shot lead over Paul Casey and Tommy Schauffele. Casey eagled the Par-5, 608-yard first hole and tallied six birdies. Schauffele had a chance at birdie and a share of the lead with Fowler on his final hole, but pushed his putt just wide to lock him into a second-place tie with Casey.
Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka are all two shots off the lead on a day when birdies were there for the taking.
Fowler paced the tournament field by playing nearly flawless golf as he hit 12 of 14 fairways. 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.
While Fowler got off to a soaring start, Dustin Johnson, the No. 1-ranked player in the world and defending U.S. Open champion, struggled with a 3-over-par 75 and is tied for 102nd. Johnson's round included a double-bogey and two bogeys. Putting proved to be Johnson's biggest issue.
Johnson wasn't alone in his struggles.
Jason Day, the world's No. 3-ranked golfer, experienced his share of difficulties before finishing at 7-over. Day's opening round included a triple-bogey on the Par-4, 451-yard fourth hole.
NOTES: Phil Mickelson officially withdrew from the U.S. Open Field on Thursday to attend his daughter's high school graduation in California. Mickelson, who has six U.S. Open runner-up finishes, had appeared in 23 straight Open Championships dating back to 1994. ... An advertising blimp not associated with the United States Golf Association or the U.S. Openbroadcast crashed and burst into flames during Thursday morning's first round. The crash occurred approximately a half mile from Erin Hills. ESPN.com reported that the pilot was "alert and conscious" and was flown by helicopter to the hospital. Patrick Walsh, CEO of AirSign, an advertising firm, identified the pilot to ESPN as Trevor Thompson. Walsh told ESPN the crash was due to a failure of the skin near the top of the ship. Walsh credited crew chief Matt Schmidt with saving Thompson's life after Schmidt pulled Thompson away from the burning blimp before it exploded.