Golf

Fowler on the prowl

World No. 9 cards seven birdies to take US Open lead

Rickie Fowler scored a record-equalling seven-under 65 to grab the lead in a low-scoring opening round at the US Open yesterday morning (Singapore time), as a fiery airship crash jolted players and fans.

Fowler, the world No. 9 from California, revelled in benign conditions at Erin Hills Golf Course to notch seven birdies and 11 pars to take a one-shot lead.

With the picturesque par-72 course set up at a monstrous 7,845 yards, Erin Hills had been expected to live up to the US Open's billing of being the toughest test in golf.

But, heavy rain, which has softened greens and made fairways more forgiving, created an inviting start to the year's second Major.

Fowler wasted no time in exploiting the conditions after teeing off on the 10th, rattling off four quick birdies to be four under. Three more birdies on the inward nine took him to seven under.

While the lowest opening round score at a US Open is 63, Fowler's round saw him equal the record for the lowest score to par in the first round set by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf in 1980.

"It's cool, but it's just the first round," Fowler said. "It is always cool to be part of some sort of history in golf. But I'd rather be remembered for something that's done on Sunday."

One stroke behind Fowler were Paul Casey and Xander Schauffele. Three players - Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka - were two back from Fowler.

Other favourites, including the world's top three players, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day all had a miserable outing, though. (See report below).

Former US Open champion Ernie Els, meanwhile, chose the 20th anniversary of his last victory in the tournament to remind fans that he is not quite ready to be put out to grass.

The 47-year-old South Africa posted a two-under 71. His round would have been better had it not been for two bogeys in his closing holes.

Elsewhere, Canada's Adam Hadwin tied a US Open record by firing six consecutive birdies to roar into contention.

Playing the back nine first, Hadwin was at two-over through eight holes when he suddenly clicked into gear with a birdie at the par-five 18th.

He then roared through the turn with five straight birdies from the first before the streak came to a screeching halt with a bogey at the par-three sixth.

He added one more birdie, at the eighth, for a four-under 68, three back of Fowler.

Hadwin became just the third golfer to string together six birdies at a US Open, joining George Burns (1982) and Andy Dillard (1992), who both accomplished the feat at Pebble Beach.

The opening day was jolted early on by the fiery crash of a blimp, an airship owned by an advertising firm, hovering near the course.

The pilot was being treated for burns, local law enforcement officials said. - REUTERS


US OPEN LEADERBOARD

  • 65: Rickie Fowler
  • 66: Paul Casey, Xander Schauffele
  • 67: Brian Harman, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka
  • 68: Patrick Reed, Kevin Na, Marc Leishman, Adam Hadwin
  • 69: Jamie Lovemark, J.B. Holmes, Lee Westwood, Andrew Johnston, Kim Si Woo, Scottie Scheffler, Jim Furyk, Bernd Wiesberger.
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