Golf: Johnson, Stenson seize U.S. Open lead
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. -- Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson took advantage of favorable morning conditions to post 5-under-par rounds of 65 to share the first-round lead at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay Golf Course on Thursday.
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. - Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson took advantage of favorable morning conditions to post 5-under-par rounds of 65 to share the first-round lead at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay Golf Course on Thursday.
Several players made runs at the duo throughout the day, but no one was able to catch them.
Patrick Reed, also playing in the morning, carded a 4-under 66 in a round that had the potential to be much lower. He stands alone in third place.
Matt Kuchar, Ben Martin and amateur Brian Campbell are another shot back at 3 under, followed by a group of seven players at 2 under that includes Jordan Spieth and Jason Day from the afternoon wave.
Johnson’s round could have been even more commanding if not for two very makeable birdie putts that narrowly missed and a bogey on the par-3 ninth hole, his final hole of the day. Stenson birdied four of his final five holes, including the 18th, to pull even about 10 minutes after Johnson completed his round.
“It was a good day out there. I played as solid as I have all year,” Stenson said. “Very pleased with the first day. It’s still a long week. It’s one day out of four.”
Phil Mickelson reached 3 under with a birdie on the eighth hole but began his second nine with three bogeys in a five-hole stretch. He steadied the ship and carded a 1-under 69.
“I’m under par after the first round of the U.S. Open, so I’m pleased,” Mickelson said. “I thought it was a very fair test, and it was set up well.”
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy struggled to read the greens consistently and finished with a 2-over 72. He failed to generate any momentum with the putter in a round that featured two birdies and three bogeys, and the world’s top-ranked player felt as if he let a big opportunity slip through his hands.
“The conditions were obviously very benign,” he said. “There was no wind out there. I’m a little disappointed considering conditions like this.”
Before a chunked chip shot for eagle on the eighth hole, Johnson appeared poised to threaten the U.S. Open first-round scoring record of 63. He hit behind his eagle chip, which rolled back down off the green, and he needed to execute a nice up and down by utilizing a back slope just to salvage par.
He then bogeyed the ninth hole after hooking a 6-iron that missed the green and rolled out of a bunker. Johnson almost had to pitch the ball up sideways to reach the putting surface.
“Today I just hit it really well,” Johnson said. “I just made a bad swing on 9. That was probably the only bad swing I made all day. Well, I made a few bad ones, but that was the worst one all day.
“I thought the conditions were favorable.”
The highly predicted extreme afternoon conditions never materialized as the clouds rolled in and prevented the sun from further baking out the course. While a good breeze began to push in off Puget Sound, players were able to control their balls throughout the day and continue to post red numbers.
Fourteen players finished the early wave under par, and 21 were in red numbers as the late wave made the turn. As in the morning, the afternoon groups struggled to hold the momentum, and the first round concluded with a total of 25 golfers under par.
With milder conditions expected Friday, including the potential for some morning showers, players going out in the afternoon such as McIlroy might not be at as big a disadvantage as initially believed. However, Spieth is still looking forward to his 8:17 a.m. PST tee time for the second round after watching some of the morning action on television Thursday.
“The balls were actually spinning a bit (in the morning),” Spieth said. “Hopefully that will be the same for us.”
NOTES: Gary Woodland was admitted to Tacoma General Hospital and treated for severe hydration. His agent released a statement saying Woodland hopes to play Friday. ... Bubba Watson shot an even-par 70, but the round was far more interesting than the final tally would suggest. He opened with a double bogey after putting off the first green but made the turn at even after birdies at Nos. 7 and 9. He then doubled No. 10 after landing in a green-side bunker, hitting the rough with his backswing on his first attempt to get out and then failing to get up and down on his second attempt. However, he again rallied with three birdies against one bogey over the final eight holes. ... Fifteen-year-old qualifier Cole Hammer shot a 7-over 77 after stumbling through a 5-over stretch in four holes on his back nine. ... Tiger Woods shot 10-over 80, better than just two other players: Ricky Fowler (81) and Rich Berberian Jr. (83).