This is remarkable stuff from Rickie Fowler and the Californian now has eight birdies on his card after making his fourth on the spin from short range at 3. Xander Schauffele is in hot pursuit though and birdies at 10 and 11 take the Tokyo Olympic champion to -5, just one back.
Time for a leaderboard update…
-6: R Fowler (12)
-5: X Schauffele (11)
-3: M Meissner (10)
-2 J Solomon (F), D Wu (15), S Scheffler (12), S W Kim (11), R Fox (11)
Hole-in-one!!! Boom, France’s Mathieu Pavon drains his tee shot at the diddy widdy par-3 15th. Magnifique!!
Imagine if someone else did something similiar. Well, a Norwegian would and that man, of course, is Viktor Hovland who with one swish of a mid-iron holes out for eagle at the 485-yard 2nd, his 11th, to leap from +1 to -1. It’s all happening.
Here he comes, walking down the street, getting the funniest looks from, everyone he meets. Okay, the funny looks are coming from those who said Scottie Scheffler couldn’t putt anymore. To make a mockery of those claims, he’s just drained another 20 footer at 12 and leaps to -2.
As mentioned, Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion sits on the property and, erm, players have been hearing noises. No, not what you’re thinking, there is wildlife roaming around. That led to this rather strange exchange in Patrick Cantlay’s press conference earlier this week.
Q: I’m curious, in the times you’ve been here, have you heard any weird stories or heard any weird noises in the area to the right of the 14th tee?
PATRICK CANTLAY: Yeah, you can hear The Monkees almost every time you go back there.
No, Hugh isn’t a fan of Davey, Peter, Mike and Micky (well, he might be), there are actual monkeys providing the simian sonics. Plus other unspecified animals too. All a bit odd.
The best Hollywood films mix light and shade so let’s not focus just on the birdies. Justin Rose had high hopes of a big week following his win at Pebble Beach – a five-hour drive up the coast from here – as well as strong recent form such as 9th at the PGA Championship, 12th at Colonial and 8th in Canada last week. But the Englishman is currently a miserable five over after a horror run of bogey, bogey, bogey, double bogey from 15-18. Much work to do. Also struggling are Adam Scott, Jason Day and Patrick Reed at +4. Justin Thomas, Tyrrell Hatton and Francesco Molinari are also not exactly enjoying themselves at +3.
DeChambeau gets an approach to stop obediently by the hole at his 12th hole and that four-footer should take him into red figures. That’s where pre-tournament favourite Scottie Scheffler is right now after back-to-back birdies at 9 and 10.
Over at 2, a sumptious approach from Fowler finishes a foot away. Looking the epitome of California cool in his shades, Fowler will have that to get to -5 and a two-shot lead. Is that cool? I think it is. Sky commentator Rich Beem, the 2001 PGA Championship winner, reckons there’s a 63 out there today. Could Fowler be the one to post it? Well, his next hole, the 3rd, is playing the easiest hole on the course currently.
Paul McGinley in the Sky commentary box says the ‘marine layer’ – always part of the weather forecast in California – has kept some moisture in the course. That, and the lack of wind, explains why the scoring is “pretty good”, according to the Irishman. McGinley also says the USGA wouldn’t have wanted to make the course too penal on day one given that this is its first time hosting a US Open.
Fowler converts his birdie chance and with Solomon giving one back at 16, Rickie is our new solo leader at -4. He then booms one down the 2nd fairway to celebrate his new-found status.
-4: R Fowler (10)
-3: J Solomon (16), R Gerard (15), D Wu (13), X Schauffele (9)
Thanks Matt. Beautiful bunker shot from Fowler at the 1st, his 10th, and he’ll have a short birdie putt to join Solomon at the top on -4. Four of the top six were born in California which is quite the stat given where we are.
A par for Jon Rahm at the 18th to turn in level par. Time to hand back to Dave.
A new solo leader after Alabama’s Jacob Solomon needs just two shots at the 124-yard par-three 15th. He’s four under for the round in his first start above the second tier Korn Ferry Tour. His warm-up for this week? He was fourth with 18 holes to play in the Knoxville Open at the end of last month.
-4: J Solomon (15)
-3: R Gerard (14), D Wu (12), R Fowler (9), X Schauffele (8)
Conners is not the leading Canadian at the moment, however. That honour goes to Adam Hadwin who is two under through eight holes and thankfully unharmed after being flattened by a security guard last week when celebrating the Canadian Open win of his friend Nick Taylor. You’ve probably seen this but it’s still worth another look. Hadwin is the man in a hoodie who enters stage right!
A steady start for Canada’s Corey Conners. He spent the first 54 holes of the PGA Championship on the front page of the leaderboard before wilting in the final round. He’s failed to make the cut in all four appearances in this championship and, as he tries to break that trend, he’s one under through the 10th.
Dave talked of the creativity of Michael Brennan earlier. Here’s the evidence of that imagination!
Jon Rahm misses the fairway at the 520-yard par-four 17th. He hacks out onto the fairway, still 175 yards short of the pin. He hasn’t hit one fairway after five tries today and errant driving has been an occasional weakness this year. His approach shot leaves him 20 feet for par. He holed from 13 feet for par on the 16th but he’s asking a lot of his putter.
The latest situation at the top end of the leaderboard:
-3: J Solomon (13), D Wu (11), X Schauffele (7), G Charoenkul (6), P Barjon (6)
-2: R Gerard (13), R Fowler (8), S W Kim (7), M Mesiiner (6)
Xander Schauffele makes a tidy par at the 16th to stay three under. He doesn’t just have an excellent championship record – he is also a frequent fast starter. In his six starts he’s twice been one shot back of the leaders, once been two back, twice been three adrift and four in arrears is his worst effort. He’s currently on track to maintain that pace. Paul Barjon of France makes it a five-way tie at the top.
Scoring is currently better than many might have expected. But a handful of high quality players are struggling early in their first rounds. Tyrrell Hatton is three over through eight holes and Jason Day is on the same score having played seven. Among those on two over are Justin Thomas (through 9), Adam Scott (7), Justin Rose (7), Collin Morikawa (7) and Viktor Hovland (6).
Max Homa is currently two under for the round. The LA resident is playing alongside Collin Morikawa (two over) and Scottie Scheffler (one over) and said yesterday: “I’m going to keep this joke that I used last year. I know the US Open does themes for their first and second round pairings, so it’s nice they put the three good looking guys together yet again.”
Here comes Rickie Fowler. He joins the leaders on three under with a birdie at the 7th.
-3: J Solomon (12), D Wu (9), R Fowler (7) X Schauffele (5)
-2: R Gerard (9), M Homa (6), S W Kim (6), G Charoenkul (3)
Peter Allan emails: “Good to see Fowler and Gerard doing well. Just need Lawrence and Johnson to join them for the Liverpool footballers reunion.” (Ryan) Gerard and (Rickie) Fowler are two under and just one back of the lead. Peter might be disappointed to learn that Rickie Fowler is thinking of investing in Leeds United alongside Justin (Mickey) Thomas and Jordan (anyone got one?) Spieth.
Xander Schauffele joins the lead group on three under with a birdie at the par-five 14th. As Dave noted earlier, he’s relentless in this championship with six top 20s from his six starts. In all majors that tally is 16-for-24. A Californian native, might this be the week he wins one?
Remember when the world of golf argued about the best player in the world yet to win a major? These days the debate is about the world’s best player yet to record a major championship top 10 finish. Because, somewhat incredibly, both Max Homa (six PGA Tour wins) and Sam Burns (five PGA Tour victories) are yet to achieve that feat. Homa has just drained a 32 foot par putt at the 5th to stay one under for the round.
The English amateur Barclay Brown is level par through three holes. He became a favourite of many at last year’s Open with his trademark floppy hat and a name that resembles an English character actor from the Terry-Thomas era. He made the cut at St Andrews and is on track to return to the Old Course to play for GB&I in September’s Walker Cup.
Dylan Wu completes a birdie at the 8th to make it a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard. Dave started a corny musical theme earlier and I’ll run with it. No LA connection but I’ve fired up the ukulele and am singing, George Formby style, “And Mr Wu’s a round one leader now.”
Sergio Garcia is into the red with a birdie at the 15th. It’s his sixth hole of the day and his 23rd major championship start since he won the Masters in 2017. He hasn’t finished top 10 in any of them. It’s a remarkable run but he was so keen to play this week he went to Qualifying in Dallas and earned his spot.
Jacob Solomon and the Mexican amateur Omar Morales are playing in the first group out. And they’re having a great time. They share the early lead on three under.
-3: O Morales -a- (10), J Solomon (10)
-2: R Gerard (9), D Wu (7), K Streelman (6), X Schauffele (3)
Fleetwood secures a birdie at the 6th with an excellent lag putt to steady the ship. He’s now level par for the opening round. Meanwhile, Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 champion of this event, had completed back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th to atone for an early bogey.
Tommy Fleetwood takes aim at the green on the par-four 6th. And his ball makes it – well, trickles onto the second cut at the back of the putting surface. He’s one over par through his first five holes off the back of his defeat in extra holes last week at the Canadian Open. Starting his round on the back nine, Xander Schauffele had made birdie at two of his first three holes.
Good afternoon everyone. If you’re thinking that the Thursday morning galleries seem a little quiet and sparse you’d be right. The fans are out there but maybe not in the numbers we’ve come to expect at US major championships. The daily capacity has been reported as 24,000 with a significant number of them corporate, rather than general admission, tickets. Those fans can walk the course but they do have … alternative options.
Time now to hand over to Matt Cooper for a few hours. Best warn him that I’ve already done the Lionel Richie jokes.
Somewhat unusually, there are five par 3s on the card at Los Angeles Country Club and two today are playing over 250 yards. Patrick Reed has come a cropper at the 254-yard 11th, his second hole of the day, after racking up a double bogey following a tee-shot that went long of the green.
At 2, Scheffler tries to balance the books with a 20-foot birdie attempt but the putt leaks right towards the end of its journey so that’s a par. Playing partner Morikawa, meanwhile, has opened bogey-bogey after another dropped shot.
Other big names have made sticky starts too. English pair Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood are both at +1 after 4 and 3 holes respectively. You’ll also find major winners Bryson DeChambeau (4), Jason Day (3) and Adam Scott (2) at +1.
One the 8th, the Mexican amateur Morales has a 20-footer for eagle that almost drops. No matter, a kick-in birdie makes him the first player to hit the giddy heights of -3.
-3: O Morales -a- (8)
-2: J Solomon (7), D Wu (5)
It’s six swishes and a dropped shot for Scheffler at the 1st. There’s a surprise. Double major winner Collin Morikawa also coughs up a bogey at the par 5 after racing his opening putt 15 feet past. But over at 10, Rahm overcomes his poor opening tee shot to make birdie after brushing in a 15-footer. That 3 is matched by Xander Schauffele, a man who fully deserves the title of US Open specialist. The Californian has played in six of these and has finishes of 5th, 6th, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 14th.
Scheffler is making a horlicks of this 1st hole. After chipping out with his second, he hoicks his 220-yard approach into a greenside bunker so he’ll have to get up and down from sand for an opening par.
Up at 3, here’s a real test of Justin Thomas’ mental resolve as his approach grazes the flag, dances around the hole and then spins back 70 feet and nearly off the green. To his credit, JT keeps calm and two putts to stay at even par.
Lots of big names teeing off now and how about this for a three-ball: Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Xander Schauffele. Lionel Richie watches on and it’s once… twice… three times a fairway as the trio… actually that gag is ruined by Rahm. Schauffele and Hovland find the short grass but Rahm bellows ‘fore left’ as he tugs his three wood left into thick bermuda rough. He won’t be dancing on the ceiling about that. Or summat.
Suddenly we have a three-way tie on -2 as Morales and Solomon pick up shots.
-2: O Morales -a- (6), J Solomon (6), D Wu (3)
-1: R Gerard (5), H Buckley (4), S Stallings (4), R Sloan (3), F Molinari (2), K Streelman (2)
Bob Dylan played LA’s legendary Whisky A Go Go many times so perhaps it’s appropriate that the first man to break that tie on -1 is another Dylan. Dylan Wu didn’t birdie the easy 1st but has picked up shots at 2 and 3 to take the solo lead. Hurrah.
Back at the first, World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler hits away at the 1st but it’s a scruffy one and trickles into sand.
This is LA right so let’s take it in our stride that Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion overlooks the 14th hole while golfers at the 4th can peer into the home of Lionel Richie. Jokes write themselves here but I’d certainly be tempted to slice one into Lionel’s garden to… you know the rest.
We now have an 11-way tie at the top as 2019 Open Championship hero Shane Lowry taps in for birdie at 1. We could be in Norris McWhirter territory soon. To be fair, Los Angeles Country Club designer George C. Thomas has a reputation for giving players an easy opening hole before gaining his revenge straight after. The leaderboard is certainly showing that so far. Another player hoping to join that logjam at -1 is 2013 US Open winner Justin Rose. He’s starting at the 10th but hates his opening shot, fanning a fairway wood into a bunker or near a bunker (the cameraman couldn’t pick it out). Playing partner Jason Day doesn’t like his either, his ball settling in deep rough down the left.
Currently a 10-way tie for the lead at -1! The latest to hit that number is 2018 Open champion Francesco Molinari, who made Los Angeles his base a few years ago when becoming a member at nearby Riviera, home of the prestigious Genesis Invitational. He’s not been in the best of form lately, missing cuts at both the PGA Championship and the Memorial Tournament and failing to make the weekend in seven of his last tournaments.
Tommy Fleetwood, a runner-up in the Canadian Open last week, is still looking for a first major and, indeed, a first victory on American soil. His opening tee shot finds sand down the left but it’s a par 5 and he can still make birdie from there. The Englishman has some notable history in this event, finishing fourth at Erin Hills in 2017 and runner-up at Shinnecock in 2018 when closing with a brilliant 63, the joint-lowest ever round in this tournament. He shares that honour with Johnny Miller, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Vijay Singh and Justin Thomas, the latter his playing partner today.
Meanwhile, how about that for some imagination from amateur Michael Brennan at 3. He’s in deep rough to the right of the green, floats a chip away from the hole and watches his ball catch a slope and trickle back onto the green and into the hole. An air of Tiger at 16 in the 2006 Masters about that one. It takes Brennan into a tie for the lead at -1.
Well, here’s Phil Mickelson giving World No. 2 Jon Rahm a chipping lesson! The cynic would say Rahm (1) has more US Opens than Phil (0) but Mickelson is a six-time runner-up in this thing, has the small matter of six majors and is a short-game genius. Rahm heads out today at 4.24pm UK time while Mickelson starts his latest tortured bid to win his national championship at 8.59pm.
It’s going to be slow going out there today and, as we’re on the west coast of America, UK viewers who want to see Sky Sports’ coverage through until 3am may need some help. This press room coffee is pretty neat.
Los Angeles Country Club hasn’t seen rain in a month so is playing firm and fast. Balls are landing on greens, hopping forward and rolling and rolling. Rather like an Open Championship you could say. One bonus for the the morning starters is the lack of wind; flags are limp, trouser legs are not flapping.
Very early days but four players are now under par for the round. Here they are:
-1: O Morales -a- (2), M Kim (2), R Gerard (1), S Stallings (1)
Scottie Scheffler saunters onto the practice range. The 2022 Masters winner has been a beacon of high-class consistency this season, winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Arizona and The Players Championship in Florida. In 11 other starts he hasn’t finished outside the top 12. That deserves a ‘wowzers’. From tee to green his numbers have been off the planet so if the putter warms up the American will be hard to stop as he bids to land a second major. Scheffler gets going alongside Collin Morikawa and Max Homa at 4.13pm UK time.
Michael Kim makes an opening birdie, his red number coming at the short par-4 10th. It’s been 10 years since the former California-Berkeley grad finished 17th in the US Open at Merion (where Justin Rose won) to secure Low Amateur honours. The 29-year-old hasn’t quite had the career many tipped him for – indeed this is his first start in the US Open since then – but he did manage a PGA Tour win at the 2018 John Deere Classic and you can’t knock that. He’s also been a good follow on Twitter this week with his insights from the course in practice.
Hole locations for the opening round are here. Take a quick scan.
So we’re in Los Angeles this week, the first US Open to be held here in 75 years. Your kind of town?
Hello! And we’re off and running in the 123rd US Open! Omar Morales – a college amateur from nearby UCLA – had the honour of hitting the first ball of this year’s event. The Mexican is 20 years old and part of a three-ball at the 1st also featuring South African Deon Germishuys and American Jacob Solomon. Over at the 10th, there’s another three-ball teeing off: Japan’s Ryutaro Nagano alongside American duo Berry Henson and Hank Lebioda. Not a great start for Hank there; he’s made double bogey. But Morales has posted the first birdie of the day, tapping in on the 594-yard par 5 opener after putting his approach to just 20 feet.
With Hollywood a short drive from Los Angeles Country Club, perhaps it’s appropriate that the build-up to this year’s US Open has been laced with talk of plot twists and betrayal. The PGA Tour’s bombshell decision to effectively merge with the rebel LIV Golf organisation, this new entity backed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, has sent golf into a tailspin. Check out the transcripts from this week’s player press conferences. A cursory “how’s the course playing, John/Scottie?” followed by a barrage of questions on “the big news last week”.
The show must go on and this week’s venue – a beefy but strategic 7,423-yard par 70 with five par 3s and three par 5s – looks an intriguing all-round test. But make sure you find a comfy chair; we could be in for some looooong old rounds. With conditions firm and fast, the rough described as “brutal” and a configuration of holes – lengthy par 3s, driveable par 4s and reachable par 5s – that will cause back-ups and delays, rounds will be slow. “I’d be surprised if they’re under six hours,” said Padraig Harrington. Gulp.
Still, we have a raft of plotlines to keep us entertained: Rory to end his nine-year majors drought? Jon Rahm or Brooks Koepka win their second major of the season? Victory for one of the California locals (Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay, Max Homa)? Matt Fitzpatrick to defend his crown? A first major for Viktor Hovland? Will Jordan Spieth’s imagination be fired? And so it goes on.
Some of those cats are out early so let’s adjust to Pacific Time (eight hours behind UK), feel the California vibe and watch the film of this year’s US Open unfold. Here are those tee-times, folks.
Starting at hole one (all times BST)
(* denotes amateur)
14:45 O Morales (Mex)*, D Germishuys (SA), J Solomon (US)
14:56 R Gerard (US), Katsuragawa (Jpn), M Brennan (US)*
15:07 H Buckley (US), A Svensson (Can), P Larrazabal (Spa)
15:18 C Young (US), D Wu (US), R Sloan (Can)
15:29 R Ishikawa (Jpn), K Streelman (US), M Pavon (Fra)
15:40 S Lowry (Ire), J Thomas (US), T Fleetwood (Eng)
15:51 Sungjae Im (Kor), KH Lee (Kor), JT Poston (US)
16:02 G Woodland (US), Scott (Aus), C Conners (Can)
16:13 C Morikawa (US), M Homa (US), S Scheffler (US)
16:24 D McCarthy (US), J Dahmen (US), A Hadwin (Can)
16:35 M McClean (NI)*, S Power (Ire), R Fox (NZ)
16:46 M Meissner (US), B Brown (Eng), G Charoenkul (Tha)
16:57 A Yang (HK)*, J Schutte (US), A Svoboda (US)
20:15 B Grant (US), V Norman (Swe), C Hoffman (US)
20:26 S Forsstrom (Swe), C Ortiz (Mex), M Moldovan (US)*
20:37 E Cole (US), T Lawrence (SA), A Schenk (US)
20:48 L List (US), W Nienaber (SA), A Del Rey (Spa)
20:59 A Meronk (Pol), H English (US), J Niemann (Chi)
21:10 A Noren (Swe), W Clark (US), A Eckroat (US)
21:21 K Kitayama (US), C Davis (Aus), R Henley (US)
21:32 C Smith (Aus), S Bennett (US), M Fitzpatrick (Eng)
21:43 B Horschel (US), C Kirk (US), B Harman (US)
21:54 B Koepka (US), H Matsuyama (Jpn), R McIlroy (NI)
22:05 S Muniz (Col), N Taylor (Can), T Montgomery (US)
22:16 O Browne Jr (US), D Puig (Spa), K Vilips (US)*
22:27 C Pereira (US), I Simmons (US)*, JJ Grey (Eng)
Starting from hole 10
14:45 B Henson (US), R Nagano (Jpn), H Lebioda (US)
14:56 M Kim (US), J Smith (Eng), W Ding (Chn)*
15:07 S Stallings (US), P Summerhays (US)*, L Herbert (Aus)
15:18 J Dantorp (Swe), P Rodgers (US), R Armour (US)
15:29 T Pieters (Bel), A Wise (US), G Sargent (US)*
15:40 B DeChambeau (US), F Molinari (Ita), T Hatton (Eng)
15:51 T Hoge (US), S Garcia (Spa), S Straka (Aut)
16:02 J Rose (Eng), R Fowler (US), J Day (Aus)
16:13 P Reed (US), M Kuchar (US), SW Kim (Kor)
16:24 X Schauffele (US), V Hovland (Nor), J Rahm (Spa)
16:35 M Kaymer (Ger), S Cink (US), M Thorbjornsen (US)*)
16:46 D Horsey (Eng), B Valdes (US), P Barjon (Fra)
16:57 J Gumberg (US), K Mueller (US), B Amat (Fra)*
20:15 R Fisher (Eng), N Echavarria (Col), P Haley II (US)
20:26 N Dunlap (US)*, N Hardy (US), S Stevens (US)
20:37 T Pendrith (Can), N Potgieter (SA)*, R Langasque (Fra)
20:48 A Puttnam (US), V Perez (Fra), A Ancer (Mex)
20:59 P Mickelson (US), P Harrington (Ire), K Bradley (US)
21:10 M Pereira (Chi), E Grillo (Arg), Fernandez de Oliveira (Arg)*
21:21 T Kim (Kor), S Theegala (US), C Young (US)
21:32 S Burns (US), D Johnson (US), K Mitchell (US)
21:43 T Finau (US), J Spieth (US), P Cantlay (US)
21:54 D Thompson (US), MW Lee (Aus), J Suh (US)
22:05 T Moore (US), M Hughes (Can), B Carr (US)*
22:16 P Cover (US), D Nyfjall (Swe)*, F Capan III (US)
22:27 A Truslow (US), C Cavaliere (US)*, A Schaake (US)
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2023/jun/15/us-open-golf-2023-first-round-live US Open golf 2023: first round – live | US Open