Fowler among early leaders as US Open tees off

Fowler among early leaders as US Open tees off

Fowler among early leaders as US Open tees off

He hit 11 fairways and 13 greens to make for a remarkably stress-free morning on the whole. "I didn't shoot myself out of it".

Justin Rose holds the outright lead at six-under, matching Tiger Woods' record for the lowest round at a US Open held at Pebble Beach. And yet, on Thursday, he had to superglue that 70 together with his Scotty Cameron and 11 one-putts. The picture might not be particularly rosy for Woods but it could have been much gloomier had it not been for some superb putting, which rescued an uncharacteristically poor day with the irons.

Front nine (1-under 34): It was all pars for Woods on the front except for a four-hole stretch, but boy was that four-hole stretch a unusual one.

He made four birdies and an eagle gave him a six-under-par score of 30 on the back nine, leaving him in the clubhouse on a respectable two-under-par after his first round.

Then past year, a few bad pin placements on the back nine at Shinnecock Hills made the course nearly unplayable on Saturday, when the final 45 players who teed off all failed to break par. Wow", said Woods. "As you know, Pebble Beach, you have like the first seven holes and you can get it going, and then after that it's a fight.

After scrambling for a par on the 18th, McIlroy picked up further shots on the second and third and also holed from 15 feet for par on the fifth after duffing his chip from heavy rough just off the green.

Every round has its key moments and McIlroy came through a test at the 15th, where he drove into a fairway bunker left, came up just short of the green and then made a curling, left-to-right 10-footer to save par.

Playing with him was Tiger Woods, who was 1 under on the day and 2 under for the tournament. "I'm right there. I feel like if I get off tomorrow to a good start, I'm right back into it".

What went poorly: Inexplicably, Tiger hit it so poorly with his irons on Thursday.

"I said I know". Not good. This is why it's a minor miracle he escaped with 70.

In fact, only seven players have finished an Open at Pebble Beach under par, led by Woods' record-setting 12-under performance in 2000.

The dramatic turnaround was far from his last though, as the golfing world learned last month when Tiger muscled through a tightly-packed Augusta leaderboard to win by one shot. In 2010, when he finished T4, Woods trailed by five after firing a 74 in the first round.

"I don't think level par wins this week", he said.

Woods looks much better physically and mentally than he did at Bethpage, where he looked exhausted and rusty.

"I had a chat with Johnny at the champions dinner and he said if you look at the history of major championships, that first round is so important", said McIlroy, who started the 2011 US Open, 2012 US PGA, 2014 Open and 2014 US PGA with rounds of 65, 67, 66 and 66 respectively.

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