U.S. Open 2017 leaderboard scores: Rickie Fowler leads after Thursday’s first round at Erin Hills

We’ve got 18 holes in the books at Erin Hills and while we’ve got a superstar at the top of the U.S. Open leaderboard, most of the big names struggled. Some notes on some of the bigger stories of Day 1 at the U.S. Open.

Score of the Day

This is an easy and obvious choice. Rickie Fowler went out and matched an opening round record in relation to par, a 7-under 65 that has him in front by a shot. Granted, the course was yielding red numbers all over the place, relatively for a U.S. Open. But Fowler was flawless and it could have been better, with a few putts burning edges to stop birdie runs.

Fowler made it look easy and he said it was after the round. But while he may have a historical number, he also said he’d rather be remembered for something he did come Sunday. Rick was a trendy pick coming into this week. He’s performed well at U.S. Opens in the past and played well this year, with a win already under his belt at the Honda Classic and a tee time in the second-to-last Sunday pairing at Augusta. Now he’s just got to hold on through 54 holes on a course that wrecked many of his compatriots at the top of the world rankings on Thursday.

For an expanded recap of Rickie’s morning round, go here.

Shot of the Day

There were plenty to choose from, but I loved this early Hideki “trap-cut” as the Featured Group livestream announcers kept calling it.

Ernest Goes Old School

One of the morning delights at Erin Hills was Ernie Els, who threw it back to the glory years when he’d contend regularly at the national championship. Els almost jarred it for an ace at the par-3 9th, settling for a tap-in and an outward 4-under 32. It was awesome to watch and while Els gave two back on his final two holes of the day, he’s still inside the top 20 in what could be his final U.S. Open.

Els got in the 2017 U.S. Open on the last year of a 5-year exemption for his 2012 Open Championship title. That was his only exemption. Of course, he’d get an invite back next year if he finishes inside the top 10 this year and he can always go through qualifying. But those aren’t givens and it was cool to see one of the all-time U.S. Open greats light it up early at Erin Hills.

Big Names Go Bust

This was supposed to be a course that favored so many of the superstars at the top of the world rankings. We kept hearing predictions of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, and others feasting on this course. But the top 10, save for Rickie, was awful. The amateurs were showing up the top 10 in the world, as this tweet illuminated late in the day.

That’s generally not what you want for a major, but these Ams are world-class talents who can hang at any venue. Still, we need some of that cream to rise to the top with bounce back Fridays. Spieth and DJ seem like the most likely candidates to get back into it in the second round.

Rory regrets?

Well, that didn’t go as planned. Just two days after his incredulous response to the fescue being cut down at Erin Hills, Rory went out and repeatedly blasted drives off the planet and into the thick stuff. McIlroy’s quote about the fescue alterations:

We have 60 yards from left line to right line. You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here, if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home. These are the widest fairways we’ve ever played in a U.S. Open.

Rory then went out and hit just 5-of-14 fairways in his opening round — which tied him for 155th out of 156 players in the field. McIlroy’s 78 was a disaster — there’s really no other way to put it. The score ballooned to that after McIlroy drove it to the edge of the green on the par-4 second hole. He poured in the eagle putt and that would be pretty much the only highlight of the day.

Also in that Tuesday press conference, Rory said the key to his success at major championships was getting off to a good start.

If you look at how I’ve started the majors that I’ve won, I’ve sort of led from the front. I shot 65 or 66 at Congressional. I shot 67 at Kiawah. I shot 66 at Hoylake and shot 66 again I think at Valhalla. So it is imperative for me to get off to a good start, I feel like, and I haven’t been able to do that.

It was all bad — the driver, the new putter — nothing seemed to come together for the 2011 U.S. Open champ. Rory’s 13 shots back of Rickie’s leading number and it will be a grind just to make the cut on Friday morning.

Expectations for Rory were all over the map. This was a course he said he loved and was supposed to set up perfectly for his strengths. But he’s also barely played since the Masters and was coming off another rib injury. So there was a wide range of expectations, but a 78 that puts him in a tie for 143rd was probably worse than anyone could have imagined.

Fescue Rescue

The fescue, which was allegedly not supposed to come into play consistently with these wide fairways, was constantly featured in the FOX broadcast. They ran a montage of many of the aforementioned superstars just trying to hack out of the stuff. Spieth hit one and had no idea where it was, leaning on his caddie, Michael Greller, to catch a glimpse of it moving just a few feet into more of the thick junk right in front of them. DJ hacked out of it but across the fairway and into the crowd. The narrative about this being a bomber’s paradise may need some review. With the fescue coming into play more often than expected, it might be better to just be straight.

Red-Faced Rahm

I saw one tweet on Thursday morning that Jon Rahm, another trendy pick at the start of the week, was losing some fans. That’s because Rahm was hot from the very start of his round, hitting it off the fairway into the fescue and getting testy. He repeatedly dropped clubs, exclaimed in frustration, and stomped around in a morning struggle.

Golf Digest picked up a sampling of the social media complaints about Rahm’s behavior. Social media is always angry and unkind about what they’re watching, but the act was definitely noticeable. He’s a young star who is going to win plenty in the future, but it wasn’t the best look for the young Spaniard and became a side story to Rickie’s run.

Blimp Scare

The biggest news item of the day had nothing to do with golf. A blimp unaffiliated with the FOX coverage and running ads overhead had a malfunction and went down in a field nearby. There was smoke over Erin Hills and FOX later showed the blimp exploding in the field. ESPN reporters Kevin Van Valkenburg and Ian O’Connor went off the property to chase the story and found a crew chief that likely saved the pilot’s life.

The pilot took the blimp to ground and reportedly suffered serious injuries and burns but was “alert and conscious” on his way to the hospital.

***

After a sunup-to-sundown day, we’re ready for more on Friday. Here are your scores after 18 holes at Erin Hills:

2017 U.S. Open Leaderboard

Place Player Score Round 1
Place Player Score Round 1
1 Rickie Fowler -7 65
T2 Paul Casey -6 66
T2 Xander Schauffele -6 66
T4 Brian Harman -5 67
T4 Tommy Fleetwood -5 67
T4 Brooks Koepka -5 67
T7 Patrick Reed -4 68
T7 Kevin Na -4 68
T7 Marc Leishman -4 68
T7 Adam Hadwin -4 68
T11 Jamie Lovemark -3 69
T11 J.B. Holmes -3 69
T11 Lee Westwood -3 69
T11 Andrew Johnston -3 69
T11 Si Woo Kim -3 69
T11 Scottie Scheffler (a) -3 69
T11 Bernd Wiesberger -3 69
T18 Charley Hoffman -2 70
T18 Brandt Snedeker -2 70
T18 Ernie Els -2 70
T18 Jack Maguire -2 70
T18 Brandon Stone -2 70
T18 William McGirt -2 70
T18 Sergio Garcia -2 70
T18 Jim Furyk -2 70
T18 Matt Fitzpatrick -2 70
T18 Cameron Champ (a) -2 70
T18 Derek Barron -2 70
T29 Kevin Dougherty -1 71
T29 Davis Love IV -1 71
T29 Thomas Aiken -1 71
T29 Zach Johnson -1 71
T29 Angel Cabrera -1 71
T29 Tyson Alexander -1 71
T29 Stephan Jaeger -1 71
T29 Brendan Steele -1 71
T29 Russell Henley -1 71
T29 Harris English -1 71
T29 Charl Schwartzel -1 71
T29 Shane Lowry -1 71
T29 Byeong Hun An -1 71
T29 Ryan Brehm -1 71
T29 Jonathan Randolph -1 71
T29 Trey Mullinax -1 71
T45 Yusaku Miyazato E 72
T45 Hideto Tanihara E 72
T45 Rafa Cabrera Bello E 72
T45 Gary Woodland E 72
T45 Martin Laird E 72
T45 Branden Grace E 72
T45 Martin Kaymer E 72
T45 Eddie Pepperell E 72
T45 Yuta Ikeda E 72
T45 George Coetzee E 72
T45 Keegan Bradley E 72
T45 Adam Scott E 72
T45 Bill Haas E 72
T45 Scott Piercy E 72
T45 Justin Rose E 72
T45 Roberto Diaz E 72
T61 Jordan Niebrugge 1 73
T61 Whee Kim 1 73
T61 Aaron Rai 1 73
T61 David Lingmerth 1 73
T61 Michael Putnam 1 73
T61 Alex Noren 1 73
T61 Bud Cauley 1 73
T61 Russell Knox 1 73
T61 Jordan Spieth 1 73
T61 Daniel Miernicki 1 73
T61 Tyler Light 1 73
T61 Chris Wood 1 73
T61 Satoshi Kodaira 1 73
T61 Daniel Summerhays 1 73
T61 Richie Ramsay 1 73
T61 C.T. Pan 1 73
T61 Justin Thomas 1 73
T61 Steve Stricker 1 73
T61 Maverick McNealy (a) 1 73
T61 Mason Andersen (a) 1 73
T61 Alex Smalley (a) 1 73
T82 Talor Gooch 2 74
T82 Ted Potter Jr. 2 74
T82 Andres Romero 2 74
T82 Haotong Li 2 74
T82 Bradley Dredge 2 74
T82 Hideki Matsuyama 2 74
T82 Kevin Kisner 2 74
T82 Matt Kuchar 2 74
T82 Francesco Molinari 2 74
T82 Webb Simpson 2 74
T82 Lucas Glover 2 74
T82 Joaquin Niemann (a) 2 74
T82 Chan Kim 2 74
T82 Troy Merritt 2 74
T82 Bryson DeChambeau 2 74
T82 Henrik Stenson 2 74
T82 Louis Oosthuizen 2 74
T82 Peter Uihlein 2 74
T82 Stewart Cink 2 74
T82 Kevin Chappell 2 74
T102 Brice Garnett 3 75
T102 Paul Dunne 3 75
T102 Chez Reavie 3 75
T102 Jason Kokrak 3 75
T102 Ross Fisher 3 75
T102 Scott Gregory (a) 3 75
T102 Dustin Johnson 3 75
T102 Christopher Crawford (a) 3 75
T102 Wade Ormsby 3 75
T102 Oliver Bekker 3 75
T102 Nick Flanagan 3 75
T102 Bubba Watson 3 75
T114 Shugo Imahira 4 76
T114 Matt Wallace 4 76
T114 Jason Dufner 4 76
T114 Jeunghun Wang 4 76
T114 Tyrrell Hatton 4 76
T114 Thomas Pieters 4 76
T114 Jon Rahm 4 76
T114 Graeme McDowell 4 76
T114 Max Greyserman 4 76
T114 Corey Conners 4 76
T114 Kyle Thompson 4 76
T114 Sean O’Hair 4 76
T114 Pat Perez 4 76
T114 Wesley Bryan 4 76
T114 Roberto Castro 4 76
T114 Emiliano Grillo 4 76
T114 Sam Ryder 4 76
T131 Daniel Chopra 5 77
T131 Stewart Hagestad (a) 5 77
T131 Gene Sauers 5 77
T131 Joel Stalter 5 77
T131 Matt Campbell 5 77
T131 Sahith Theegala (a) 5 77
T131 Ben Kohles 5 77
T131 Gregory Bourdy 5 77
T131 Jhonattan Vegas 5 77
T131 Alexander Levy 5 77
T131 Jimmy Walker 5 77
T131 Andy Pope 5 77
T143 Ryan Palmer 6 78
T143 J.T. Poston 6 78
T143 Scott Harvey (a) 6 78
T143 Brad Dalke (a) 6 78
T143 Daniel Berger 6 78
T143 Rory McIlroy 6 78
T143 John Oda (a) 6 78
T143 Roman Robledo 6 78
T151 Billy Horschel 7 79
T151 Jason Day 7 79
T153 Danny Willett 9 81
T153 Walker Lee (a) 9 81
T153 Brian Stuard 9 81
156 Garrett Osborn 11 83

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