By Mark Gregory
ERIN, Wis. – Erin Hills Golf Course may be the longest course to ever host the US Open Championships, but that did not seem to bother Rickie Fowler Thursday as he jumped with a 7-under par 65 to lead all other suitors by two shots after the opening round.
“I’ve been swinging well all through the start of the week. It was nice getting off to a quick start, birdieing 11, and kind of getting
a bonus on 12 after hitting it in the first cut off the tee,” Fowler said. “Then from there, I was just taking advantage of the par 5s. So really just had to add a couple more and that was the round. It’s a lot easier said than done. (I) still missed some putts that I had opportunities out there, but it’s just nice to go out and actually execute the game plan and not have to think about what if that one went in or anything like that. Yeah, you’re going to miss putts. You’re not going to make everything. So (I am) definitely happy with the start.”
Fowler’s 65 is the lowest opening round in the 117 year history of the US Open and while Fowler is happy with the way he started, he would rather be happy with the way he finishes.
He is one shot in front of Xander Schauffele and Paul Casey.
“It’s cool, but it’s just the first round,” he said. “So yeah, 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.”
There is a pair of players in the field that have ties to the Chicago suburbs.
Matthew Fitzpatrick, who is playing in his third US Open, is originally from Sheffield, England, but played his college golf at Northwestern University in Evanston.
His best finish in the tournament was in when he placed tied for 48th at 11 shots over par. Last season, he was tied for 54th at 13-over.
After one round this year, Fitzpatrick is tied for 18th at 2-under par.
The other local connection is Andy Pope, a graduate of Glenbard West High School in Glen Ellyn. After day one at Erin Hills, he sits at 5-over par, tied for 132nd.
Last year Pope missed the cut at the US Open and the year before that, he placed tied for 70th at 14-over par.
Pope has only played in two tournaments this season, both on the Web.com Tour and he qualified for this weekend’s tournament when he earned one of five spots at Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J.