On a day where the winds were relatively light and the mercury barely crossed the 20-degree mark, the world’s best players took full advantage of their opportunity. 39 golfers bettered par, matching the second-most in championship history and just five behind the record 44 recorded two years ago at Erin Hills.
So perhaps it was fitting that a guy named Rose grabbed the first-round lead. Justin Ros birdied his final three holes for a 6-under-par 65, matching Tiger Woods’ opening round in 2000. Maybe it’s a good omen for Rose, who registered an eagle and five birdies against one bogey, on the par-4 eighth.
“Obviously, a fun day of golf,” said Rose. “I guess the round was going nicely. I was 3 under par, had a rough patch, had to scramble, work hard, keep my round together. Even when I made a mistake, I was willing to accept. And then got rewarded with a hot finish. It’s certainly fun to finish playing that golf hole late at night around 7 pm. Obviously, that’s where you want to be on Sunday.”
Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Aaron Wise and Louis Oosthuizen were a shot back with 66s. Scott Piercy and sectional qualifier Nathan Lashley were another stroke farther back, with 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy and a pair of recent winners of The Open Championship, Henrik Stenson and Francesco Molinari, headlining a large group at 68. Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods carded 69 and 70, respectively, the latter doing it with 11 one-putts.
The 72.66 stroke average is the lowest for a first round of any of the six U.S. Opens contested at Pebble Beach, nearly two strokes lower than the 74.51 recorded in 1992. USGA/PPH