An early US Open departure for Day and McIlroy

Ross Houston
June 17, 2017

But any bad taste in his mouth shouldn't last long because it's been an impressive week for the 29-year-old Valspar Championship victor from Abbotsford, B.C. In Thursday's first round, he tied a U.S. Open record by making six consecutive birdies en route to a four-under 68 and a share of seventh place.

South Korea's Kim Si-Woo and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama were among five players on five under, which also included amateur Cameron Champ. They were three shots clear of anyone else.

On a wild day of highs and lows - and even a commercial blimp that crashed and caught fire outside the golf course during the round - Fowler emerged with a one-shot lead over Paul Casey and U.S. Open rookie Xander Schauffele in a most peculiar debut for the 11-year-old golf course.

And it doesn't stop there.

Rickie Fowler was playing so cleanly at Erin Hills that the record appeared to be in jeopardy. It was 1 over at Medinah in 1990.

At times, it felt like a regular PGA Tour event. Whenever players criticize a U.S. Open setup, their argument of choice is nearly always that they don't mind a hard test, but they want it to be fair. The wind wasn't almost as strong as thought.

Rory McIlroy found that out the hard way.

"You don't often see that in a U.S. Open", Hadwin said.

The up-and-down round ended with the Englishman signing for one-under 71 and walking into the clubhouse level with Fowler, who had yet to start his round. It didn't matter at that point because I was so far from the cut line, but at least I know it's in there, it's just a matter of getting it out of me and getting myself in the right frame of mind. The defending champion shot a 73. "The golf course is actually really attractive". Obviously my game is on when the course is playing tougher.

"It was a pleasure to work on it and we're very proud of that golf course [Diamond Hawk]" Hurdzan said while watching the best golfers in the world try and figure out his design carved into the Wisconsin countryside.

OK, this is his first U.S. Open.

KEY STATISTIC: Fowler matched the first-round record in relation to par, joining Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf, who each shot 7-under 63 in 1980 at Baltusrol. It was a thoughtful gesture, and one I might have taken advantage of were the Gatorade itself not a holdover from my Wednesday stay in the media center, which offers plenty of bottled beverages for free to us coddled media types.

"I'm excited to get on a run of golf and get going". "I think with everything so large, your target is larger and your misses get even more extreme". McIlroy said his transition was too quick, that he would get to the top of his swing and then essentially lunge at the ball.

And the biggest test of all could be the USGA proving that it's not trying to protect par.

"Michael and I were both talking, and we're still very much in it", Spieth said.

FALLING STARS: Dustin Johnson's repeat quest got off to a rough start.

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