Justin Thomas hits the front on low-scoring day at US Open

Carla Harmon
September 18, 2020

Moments later, Patrick Reed made a hole-in-one on the seventh hole. Nestled in the deep Winged Foot rough, he could only advance the ball to about 20 yards short of the green.

He leads from a group of three - Reed, Belgium's Thomas Pieters and American Matthew Wolff.

Two days after stressing the need for a fast start, McIlroy got just what he hoped for in the first round at a relatively benign Winged Foot.

He found the rough on his first two holes but managed to fight back to make birdie on both to sit two-under through two holes.

"It is gettable if you play well and hit the fairways", said Westwood about the Mamaroneck venue.

If you've ever been to a major golf championship before, you'd would normally see thousands of spectators walking the course with marshals keeping them behind the ropes. "It is not going to get any easier". Hit a lot of really quality tee shots and only had a few squirrely ones, it felt like.

Reed blasted a hole-in-one at the 165-yard par-3 seventh and ran off three birdies in four holes on the back nine to share the lead until the unbelievable finish by Thomas. He had a pair of three-putts that held him back, one on the 329-yard sixth on which he hit driver onto the middle of the green and had to settle for par. That explains why only two players out of 750 who have started the previous five U.S. Opens at Winged Foot finished under par. "I've just played really solidly".

"It's a spectacular golf course, great design, awesome setup, and I thought it was a good opportunity to score low today".

Pieters delayed his return to competitive golf after the coronavirus shutdown due to the birth of his first daughter, Florence.

"I have not been so perfectionist or angry, I don't get upset about anything anymore".

Fourth-ranked McIlroy, playing his first major round since becoming a father with the birth of daughter Poppy two weeks ago, shot 67 to stand third, the four-time major victor making three of his four birdies on par-3 holes. He tied for 58th a year ago and was tied for 12th place in 2018.

"I drove it poorly, and I putted poorly", he said in offering a succinct summary of an very bad day. By now, there should be an answer for his rabid fans about just how much time they should devote to cheering him on in the US Open.

The 36-year-old Topeka native is now ranked 43rd in the FedEx Cup standings and he enters the U.S. Open ranked 25th in the Official World Golf Rankings. "At that point, it was just about executing and hitting the shots and making the putts".

In-form world number one Dustin Johnson, who won the FedEx Cup, also struggled, signing for a 73 that leaves him eight shots off the pace.

Justin Thomas closed with a 25-foot birdie putt to seize a one-stroke lead after Thursday's first round of the 120th US Open, while three other major winners lurked within two shots.

Justin Rose also found the notoriously difficult West Course hard to master as the Englishman, victor of this title in 2013, finished his opening round at three over par.

Spieth undid the damage of bogeying the first and losing his ball on his way to a double-bogey at the second by posting three straight birdies from the fourth, only to drop a shot at the tenth and card another double-bogey at the par-five 12th.

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