Southampton - Top-ranked Dustin Johnson fired a one-under par 69 to head a group of four players sharing the first-round on Thursday as a wind-whipped Shinnecock Hills offered a classic US Open test.
As Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson saw their hopes of milestone major victories suffer serious setbacks, it was England's Ian Poulter, and Americans Scott Piercy and Russell Henley who stood alongside Johnson as the only players under par after the first round.
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Jason Dufner was alone in fifth with an even par 70.
"The golf course, it was hard," said Johnson, who holed a bunker shot
for birdie at the eighth and rolled in a 20-foot birdie putt at the
"You had to play good golf if you wanted to shoot a good
score. I felt like I did a good job today."
"I drove it well. I hit a lot of quality iron shots, and then my short game was good.
"The greens are difficult. It was difficult to get it close and then it was difficult to hole putts. I felt like I did a good job today."
READ: Woods fires WORST ever US Open score
Former world number one Woods couldn't say the same after an
eight-over par 78 that started with a triple bogey and featured two
double bogeys - including a four-putt at the 13th.
"It's tough out there. But, I mean, shouldn't make two doubles and a
triple, four-putt," said Woods, whose flashes of brilliance in his
return this year from spinal fusion surgery fuelled anticipation that he
could end a 10-year major title drought stretching back to his 2008 US
"For most of the day I just didn't putt well."
Mickelson, a six-time US Open runner-up, arrived at Shinnecock
seeking a win that would make him just the sixth man to complete the
career Grand Slam.
He missed just one fairway but still came away with a seven-over 77.
Mickelson's round hit the skids early, too as he opened with a bogey
at the 10th hole. He would make six bogeys before his only birdie of the
day, at the par-five fifth - then bogeyed two more the rest of the
Playing in a marquee group with Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and
American Jordan Spieth, Mickelson was, astonishingly, the best of the
McIlroy staggered off Shinnecock with a 10-over par 80 that matched
his highest score in a major and included seven bogeys and three double
Spieth had a triple bogey at his second hole, the par-three 11th,
where he was in a bunker, then over the green, and his chip rolled back
to his feet. He also had five bogeys and a double bogey in firing a 78.
Like Woods, Spieth said the conditions were difficult, but not tough enough to account for his score.
"There were certainly some dicey pins, but at the same time there was
guys that shot under par," Spieth said. "So I could have played
Piercy said the wind affected every aspect of the game.
"What's tough about the wind here is that it's crosswinds," he said.
"It's hard to pick your lines. You're trying to putt with the ball
wiggling. So there's a lot of stuff that is difficult."
But Johnson said there was
no comparison to the 2004 US Open at Shinnecock, when brutal weekend
winds left the greens so dry that some were virtually unplayable by
"It was hard, but it was fair," Johnson said. "It wasn't anything tricky or unreasonable by any means."
Johnson was cruising with back to back birdies at four and five when
his tee shot at the sixth disappeared in deep fescue grass rough.
Even playing partner Woods joined the search, which ended when pro-turned TV commentator Rich Beem stepped on the ball.
Johnson would bogey the hole, the first of three bogeys on the day.
"Anything under par on this golf course is very good," Johnson said.
"You had to focus on every single shot you hit, putts, everything."
Henley hit 13 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens in his 69.
"I felt really in control of my game," he said. "I felt like I was going to hit it right where I was lined up."
Poulter, off to his best start ever in a US Open, said he played "exceptionally well".
"I played the par threes well. I played seven well, made two, and
obviously made two on 11. So to get through those two very tricky par
threes in four shots is well ahead of the game."
Leading first round scores on Thursday in the 118th US Open Golf Championship at Shinnecock Hills (par-70):
69 - Scott Piercy (USA), Russell Henley (USA), Dustin Johnson (USA), Ian Poulter (ENG)
70 - Jason Dufner (USA)
71 - Henrik Stenson (SWE), Matthieu Pavon (FRA), An Byeong-Hun (KOR),
Justin Rose (ENG), Charles Howell III (USA), Charley Hoffman (USA), Sam
72 - Brendan Steele (USA), Patrick Rodgers (USA), Mickey DeMorat
(USA), Xander Schauffele (USA), Brandt Snedeker (USA), Alexander Norén
73 - Kim Si-Woo (KOR), Ryan Fox (NZL), Rafael Cabrera (ESP), Luis
Gagne (CRC), Eric Axley (USA), Zach Johnson (USA), Patrick Reed (USA),
Rickie Fowler (USA), Chris Naegel (USA), Brian Gay (USA), Pat Perez
(USA), Steve Stricker (USA), Jim Furyk (USA), Will Grimmer (USA), Paul
Casey (ENG), Andrew Johnston (ENG), Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG), Russell
74 - Matt Parziale (USA), Brian Harman (USA), Matt Kuchar (USA),
Justin Thomas (USA), Brian Stuard (USA), Aaron Baddeley (AUS), Marc
Leishman (AUS), Shubhankar Sharma (IND), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA)
75 - Hideki Matsuyama (JPN), Shane Lowry (IRL), Francesco Molinari
(ITA), Sergio García (ESP), Dean Burmester (RSA), Jimmy Walker (USA),
Patrick Cantlay (USA), Brooks Koepka (USA), Kevin Chappell (USA), Peter
Uihlein (USA), Roberto Castro (USA), Tony Finau (USA), Luke List (USA),
Kyle Stanley (USA), Chez Reavie (USA), Cameron Wilson (USA), Calum Hill
(SCO), Tyrrell Hatton (ENG), Danny Willett (ENG), Tommy Fleetwood (ENG)
76 - Ross Fisher (ENG), Jhonattan Vegas (VEN), Chun An Yu (TPE), Tim
Wilkinson (NZL), Branden Grace (RSA), Im Sung-Jae (KOR), Thorbjorn
Olesen (DEN), Matt Jones (AUS), Emiliano Grillo (ARG), Mackenzie Hughes
(CAN), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), Chesson Hadley (USA), Daniel Berger
(USA), Bryson DeChambeau (USA), Bill Haas (USA), Lanto Griffin (USA),
Ted Potter Jr. (USA), Richy Werenski (USA), Ollie Schniederjans (USA),
Webb Simpson (USA), Braden Thornberry (USA)
77 - Sebastián Vázquez (MEX), Alexander Levy (FRA), Richie Ramsay
(SCO), Matthew Southgate (ENG), Matt Wallace (ENG), Tyler Duncan (USA),
Bubba Watson (USA), Phil Mickelson (USA), Dylan Meyer (USA), Aaron Wise
(USA), Lucas Glover (USA), Kevin Kisner (USA), Mike Miller (USA), Chris
78 - Michael Putnam (USA), Jordan Spieth (USA), Cole Miller (USA), Ty
Strafaci (USA), Tiger Woods (USA), David Gazzolo (USA), Ryan Evans
(ENG), Paul Waring (ENG), Jon Rahm (ESP), Jason Scrivener (AUS), Adam
Scott (AUS), Dylan Frittelli (RSA), Ernie Els (RSA)
79 - Charl Schwartzel (RSA), David Bransdon (AUS), Jason Day (AUS),
Cameron Smith (AUS), Liang Wenchong (CHN), Li Haotong (CHN), Rikuya
Hoshino (JPN), Tom Lewis (ENG), Graeme McDowell (NIR), Harold Varner III
(USA), Trey Mullinax (USA), Doug Ghim (USA), Gary Woodland (USA), Kenny
80 - Scott Stallings (USA), Will Zalatoris (USA), Rhett Rasmussen
(USA), Rory McIlroy (NIR), Harry Ellis (ENG), Juan Sebastián Muñoz (COL)
81 - Park Sung-Joon (KOR), Kristoffer Reitan (NOR), Satoshi Kodaira
(JPN), James Morrison (ENG), Jacob Bergeron (USA), Shintaro Ban (USA),
Noah Goodwin (USA), Keegan Bradley (USA), Stewart Hagestad (USA)
82 - Sulman Raza (USA), Philip Barbaree (USA), Franklin Huang (USA), Ryan Lumsden (SCO), Shota Akiyoshi (JPN)
83 - Martin Kaymer (GER), Lucas Herbert (AUS), Garrett Rank (CAN), Adam Hadwin (CAN), Timothy Wiseman (USA)
84 - Theo Humphrey (USA)
85 - Michael Block (USA)
87 - Michael Hebert (USA)
92 - Scott Gregory (ENG)