Rickie Fowler leads US Open as Jason Day bombs out

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Rickie Fowler leads the 2017 US Open by one shot as the best in the world come unstuck in the deep rough at Erin Hills.

Rickie Fowler leads the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills by one shot from Paul Casey and little known American Xander Schauffele with Australian Marc Leishman is just a few shots further back after a superb 4-under par opening round.

Fowler shot the equal best opening round in US Open history, carding a bogey-free 7-under par in conditions that looked more like a regular tour event rather than the brutal US Open. In an era where the last six majors have been won by first-time winners, no one would be surprised to see Rickie Fowler etch his name on to the US Open trophy on Sunday.

“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 just able to manage hitting and continuing to swing well and hitting good shots and rolling a couple in.”

But he’ll have some competition as none of the top-17 players on the leaderboard have won a major, including Paul Casey at -6 and Lee Westwood and -3.

Australia’s Marc Leishman fired a superb 4-under par opening round to sit just three behind Fowler. In a tournament that hasn’t always been kind to Leishman, the opening round 68 was forged out despite finding the deep fescue on several occasions.

“I’m feeling good. Obviously there’s a lot of golf to play. But the U.S. Open hasn’t always been my best golf moment,” Leishman said. “But as far as U.S. Open courses go, I feel like this one suits me the best. You need a little imagination, hitting it in the right spots.”

“I really enjoy this golf more than just having to hack out. It’s more what I grew up on in Australia. And I tend to play better on this type of golf course, so you enjoy what you play well on.”

2017 US OPEN FIRST ROUND SCORES:
-7 Rickie Fowler
-6 Paul Casey, Xander Schauffele
-5 Tommy Fleetwood, Brian Harman, Brooks Koepka
-4 Patrick Reed, Kevin Na, Marc Leishman, Adam Hadwin

Notables:
E Adam Scott, +3 Dustin Johnson, +6 Rory McIlroy, +7 Jason Day

And while Fowler’s round was being lauded at the top of the leaderboard, much of the attention was being drawn to what was happening at the bottom with many big names succumbing to the deep fescue that surrounds the fairways at Erin Hills.

The top-3 players in the world combined for a score of 16-over today with Dustin Johnson the best of the them at 3-over par.

Rory McIlroy was eating his words after his 6-over-par round of 78. Bemused that much of the pre-tournament talk was about the heavy fescue rough at Erin Hills, McIlroy thought the best payers should “go home” if they can’t hit the wide fairways.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here. If we can’t hit it in that avenue, you may as well pack your bags and go home.”

Fast forward to the first round and McIlroy spent a lot of time deep in the rough, having to hack it back out on the fairway on several occasions in as round that included two double- bogey’s.

Jason Day also spent a lot of time missing fairways and carded two triple-bogey’s for the first time in his career.

“I just played bad golf, man.” Day said laughing after the round. “I can’t put it any other way other than just there was some good stuff mixed in with a lot of poor stuff. Like I said, two triples, I don’t know. It’s weird. You sit there and it’s not like I gave up. I actually gave it 100% all the way through the end and I shot 79.”

2017 US OPEN: First Round Highlights

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