Brooks Koepka starts in ominous form – he’s two-under after his opening round at Torrey Pines
Russell Henley is the early leader after a four-under 67
Brooks Koepka’s coach laughed and shook his head when pointing out that the bookies did not make the American as favourite or even as second favourite for this week’s US Open. “A nonsense, Pete Cowen told Telegraph Sport.
And on a benign morning at Torrey Pines, after the start of play had been delayed by 90 minutes because of a “marine layer” that stubbornly overplayed its presence, Koepka set about proving the clarity of the tip provided by the wise Yorkshire instructor.
Koepka’s 69 on the South Course – even with the USGA’s generous pins and Mother Nature’s munificent early breeze – reminded everyone that in the last three US Opens in which he has competed, he has won twice and finished second in the other.
Bryson DeChambeau won this major last year, but Koepka did not play because of injury and this fact is apt because the pair’s “feud” has dominated the build-up.
The duo have gone back and forth on social media over the past few years – about such seismic matters as slow play and who has the more pronounced abdominal muscles – but it escalated notably at last month’s US PGA when Koepka enacted an eyeroll seen across the world, and then muttered obscenities heard across the world, when he deemed that DeChambeau’s bad manners had interrupted a live interview.
Believe it, there is nothing more that Koepka would love than taking the trophy off DeChambeau and as the latter was waiting for his afternoon tee-time he must have cast a glance or two at the leaderboard and glimpsed his nemesis riding high.
Cowen claims that Koepka, just like Woods, is “a major animal” and with a record of four wins, three seconds and two other top sixes in his last 14 majors it is hard to disagree. Koepka was devastated after finishing runner-up to Phil Mickelson at Kiawah Island three weeks ago.
“I should have p—– that,” he told Cowen, despite the diagnosis that he was “nowhere near 100 per cent” after a knee operation in March.
The Koepka camp does not believe he will be fully recovered until September and if that is true then days such as this should be truly worrying for his rivals. Starting on the 10th at the municipal course, he romped through his first 11 holes in four-under, holing an outrageous 45-footer on the 17th (his eighth).
Koepka fell foul of the picturesque third, the downhill par-three with the ocean as the backdrop, pulling his tee-shot. However, from a horrible position, he took his medicine well, plotting his way to a bogey, courtesy of a nerveless eight-footer. There was another bogey coming but his gaze hardly changed. Chilling.
“You can’t win it today but you can definitely lose it,” he said. “Putted well, drove it well… Pretty pleased. Not the best, but I’ll definitely take it.”
Phil Mickelson, looking to become just the sixth player in history to complete the career grand slam, highlighted the severity of the challenge with a 75. After becoming the oldest ever winner of a major at Kiawah, the 51-year-old knew that the layout he first encountered as a schoolboy would be a searching examination. San Diego is his hometown.
Every player will face personal mini-disasters. As ever, the US Open champion will be the golfer who can turn a seemed crisis into a mere drama. England’s Matt Fitzpatrick has the short game and the mental fortitude to be suited to that task in what is a huge week for the 26-year-old from Sheffield. For the former US Amateur champion, there is not only a first major title to go for but also a place in next month’s Olympics.
This happens to be the final competition in the qualifying race. As world No 9, Tyrrell Hatton, who also posted a 70, is all but guaranteed his Tokyo berth leaving Fitzpatrick, Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood seemingly fighting it out for the other place. Fitzpatrick, at world No 20, is only one position behind Casey but put himself into an obviously strong position.
Meanwhile, countryman Marcus Armitage was celebrating his lever-par 71 in his first US major. The Americans have unsurprisingly taken to the highly personable 33-year-old from Huddersfield and a personal tale that reads like a script for a made-for-TV afternoon weepy.
At 13, his mother died from cancer, he left school immediately unable to cope with the grief as a dyslexic in a schoolroom and found peace with a club in his hands – a love affair which he has never let go. He fantasised about moments like this and this true one-off was all smiles when he tapped in for his 71, featuring two bogeys and two pars.
That left him only four off the early place set by another American in Russell Henley. In with a 68 were Spain’s Rafael Cabrera Bello and Francesco Molinari, Europe’s Ryder Cup hero from 2018 who has fallen to 173rd in the world rankings since he and his young family embarked on a difficult move from London to Los Angeles.
His brother Edoardo Molinari, who partnered Francesco in the 2010 Ryder Cup, made his own welcome return to the big-time leaderboards with a 70.
Perhaps the most remarkable round of the first morning was shot by Matt Wolff, the 22-year-old California who made history last year with his runner-up finish in this event. That was his second top four in his first two majors, a feat not accomplished for more than 100 years. But this year he has struggled – disqualified from the Masters after signing for a wrong score, after a first round 83 and then a withdrawal at the WGC-Concession – so much so that he took a break for two months.
But he returned firing eight birdies on his return, remarkably making only five pars alongside the three bogeys and two double-bogeys. Rollercoaster did not begin to describe it, but a one-under 70 was swash-buckingly courageous.
We’ll have a final first-round report above here…
…once Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy and Co are back in the clubhouse. James Corrigan will give you his take on what is proving to be an intriguing first round from California.
Here’s the clubhouse leaderboard as it stands…
-3: Cabrera-Bello, F Molinari
-2: Koepka, Schauffle
-1: E Molinari, Gomez, Rodgers, Wolff, Fitzpatrick, Hatton, Hadwin
Rory, DJ and Rose walk off with pars on the second
All three had decent looks at birdie – but all have to settle for par. Rory stays on one-under, the other two at level par.
Here’s a good stat for Rory fans – he has never shot over-par when opening a major with a birdie. Considering the winning score here last time was one-under, well, I don’t want to tempt fate…
Really solid round from Rafa
You need control and discipline to do well at the US Open and Cabrera-Bello has shown both in spades today. He leaves the 9th with a par and ends the day on three-under.
DeChambeau fails where many have done before him
The par-3 third again takes another notable scalp. DeChambeau, like Koepka before him, goes over the green. His second shot fails to make the dance floor and not he’s got a tough up and down for bogey. He makes it and only drops one shot – falling back to level par. Maysuyama shows him how it’s done with a birdie to move to one-under.
Jon Rahm starts with a birdie
The Spaniard, who won his first PGA tournament at Torrey Pines in 2017, gets off to a fine start on the 10th.
Great start from McIlroy!!
What an approach from Rory – he’s in the deep rough but plays a fine shot to the green to give himself a birdie chance. AND HE MAKES IT! He needs a good start and a good first round and that will settle those nerves (even he must get them…) . DJ has a birdie chance from below the hole but leaves it short. He and Rose leave the green with pars.
Massive tee shot from the defending champion
DeChambeau hits the longest drive of the day on the 2nd, pitches it to four feet and makes no mistake with the putt. He’s off to a good start – one-under thought two.
So close to a birdie and the co-lead for…
…Cabrera-Bello on the 8th (his 17th). He’s not played well this year (a top-five in Abu Dhabi) his only performance of note so far) but he’s show fine touch on and around the greens and is challenging at the top
The big-name trio are off
Dustin Johnson finds the left fringe, he’ll be fine. Meanwhile, Rory Mcilroy finds the right rough – not ideal. The last man to tee off is Justin Rose and he is the only one to find fight short stuff.
Brilliant from Blandy
Brooks Koepka speaks…
On his performance in majors…
For me it’s how you’r remembered by. Who known how many regular tournaments [Jack] Nicklaus won? Keep doing what I am doing. I like it when it’s difficult as the majors are.
Those sitting on or near the top of the Leaderboard
-4 Henley (F)
-3 F Molinari (F), Cabrera Bello (15*)
-2 Koepka (F), Schauffele (F), Hadwin (F)
-1 E Molinari (F), Gomez (F), Rodgers (F), Wolff (F), Fitzpatrick (F), Hatton (F), Bland (2), Wallace (1)
Steady start from the defending champion
DeChambeau hits his approach from the bunker to 10 feet. He misses the putt and walks off with par. Playing partner, Master champion Hideki Matsuyama pars as well.
Matt Wallace is a good tough-course player
And he gets his round off with a birdie on the first.
Brooks Koepka has laid down an early marker for Bryson DeChambeau
The defending champion gets his tournament under way with a booming drive right into the left-hand bunker.
What a start for Richard Bland
The year’s most feel-good story (not just in golf, I’d say…this is a golf blog, so I can say stuff like that…) of the year so far was when Bland won his first tour title at his 478th attempt.
He’s just got his US Open under way with a birdie at the first – chipping in from the bunker!
Xander Schauffele is in the right place
One of the favourites, and a local of the Torrey Pines area, ends on two-under just two off the lead.
Not been a great day for Big Phil
Mickelson pars the 9th (his last) to end on four-over. I’d be a fool to write him off but will do so anyway – his search for the Grand Slam with a first US Open will go on another year.
The British duo Fitzpatrick and Hatton are in the clubhouse
Matthew Fitzpatrick ends on two-under par with Hatton on one-under – impressive from both.
Quick word on Francesco Molinari
He’s fallen outside the top 150 in the world rankings and has been out for form since finding the water at the 12th in the 2019 Masters. But that round of 68 was more like it for the Italian. At his best he’s an unflappable fairway finder and the US Open setup should suit him. It’s only the first round but three-under and lying in second place will do him the world of good.
Notable names in the clubhouse
-3 – Francesco Molinari
-2: Brooks Koepka
-1: Eduardo Molinari, Matthew Wolff
+1: Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry
+2: Justin Thomas
+4: Collin Morikawa
+5: Henrik Stenson
Who’s sitting pretty at the top of the leaderboard?
-4 Henley (F)
-3 Cabrera Bello (13*)
-2 Koepka (F), F Molinari (17), Fitzpatrick (17), Schauffele (17*), Hadwin (14)
*Started on the 10th hole
Brooks Koepka visits the bunker on the 9th
But he still manages to make par and finishes on two-under. That’s an impressive start from one of the pre-tournament favourites. The back nine – two bogeys – prevented an even more impressive start but his rivals (DeChambeau among them) will have taken note.
Russell Henley birdies the 18th
And takes the solo lead on four-under in the process. That was a great round of 67 from the three-time PGA Tour winner. Six birdies and two bogeys for the American.
That great par from Brooks Koepka
What a mixture from Matthew Wolff
He ends on one-under…it was a rollercoaster round (see below)
Playing partner Tommy Fleetwood ends with a par to finish on one-over. That’s a good score but he knows it could have been better.
Patrick Rodgers ends with a one-under par 70
He should be happy with that but may well not be. He lead for a while today but one-under in the first round of a US Open won’t do you any harm whatsoever.
Brooks Koepka makes par
Having been in a horrid position off the tee on the par-3 8th. Holes like that, where you can so easily make bogey or worse, are what win you US Opens…He stays tied for third on two-over.
The round of the day (even though it’s not the best) belongs to…
Matt Fitzpatrick feels the pain
Of the US Open. He has a very good look for birdie and the joint lead on three-under, but it shaves the hole and leaves him a four-footer for par. He misses that one (as you can do on these lightning fast greens) and bogeys to move back to one-under.
It’s a similar story for Phil Mickelson. He has a short putt for par on the 6th but his misses it and falls to three-over.
Birdied the second (his 11th) to move to three-under and a tie for the lead. But he’s in trouble the very next hole…he’s short in the bunker on the tricky par-three that is causing a lot of good players many problems as the wind picks up.
He scrambles well to somehow make par.
What a round from Marcus Armitage
The Englishman – who only qualified with victory two weeks ago – pars the last to finish at level-par, that’s good enough for a tie for 14th.
A wayward approach hurts Brooks
…The co-leader is no longer co-leader as poor iron play on the 7th (his 16th) leaves him a tough up and down, He can’t make it and drops to two-under.
Matthew Wolff’s card is all over the place….
Having fired eight birdies, two bogeys and a double bogey his card was pretty interesting already. He’s added to it with a second double bogey at the seventh (his 16th). He’s back to one-over and drops off the co-lead.
As Patrick Rodgers drops off the top of the leaderboard
Xander Schauffele makes par at the 5th (his 14th) he’s on two-over. It’s his fifth US Open and he’s never been lower than fifth. His playing partner Phil Mickelson makes par – his sixth in a row – to stay at two-over.
Morikawa and JT…
…both birdie the 6th to move to two-over and one-over respectively. Koepka does well to make par and he stays on three-under.
Tommy Fleetwood is back one-over
That’s all thanks to a double bogey at the 5th and a bogey at the following hole (his 14th and 15th holes). Shame he was looking solid – two wayward approaches cost him and illustrated that you do not want to end in the long stuff around the greens at Torrey Pines.
Koepka finds the long stuff
The co-leader drove into the right rough on his 15th (6th) His playing partners Morikawa and JT hit to beauts into the green, his approach is fine, ending on the fringe some 25 feet from the hole.
The wind has arrived
A but too late for my liking – we could have done with it sooner to blow the fog away…Anyway, it’s windy at Torrey Pines, making an already tough test even tougher. Those souls at the USGA will be happy…
A bit more on Matthew Wolff’s rollercoaster ride
The big-hitting American was…
Three-under through four…
One-over through eight…
And is now back to three-under, through 14…
The 18th is being kind today
Rafa Cabrera-Bello has just eagled it – the Spaniard is two-under for his front nine.
Watch and applaud
Matthew Wolff is back on top of the leaderboard…
What a round for the American. He’s hit is eighth birdie of the day (wow, just wow) on the fifth (his 14th) to go back to three-under (where he was after four holes) and claim the join lead. He’s only had two pars today…entertaining stuff. Who said only defensive golf does well at the US Open (it might have been me…)?!
Looking good for Martin Laird
The US-based Scot eagles the 18th (his 9th) to lie on two-under at the turn.
Other Britons doing well are…
Tyrrell Hatton -1 (12)
Marcus Armitage – 1 (15)
Matt Fitzpatrick level par (12)
Ian Poulter 1+ (10)
Xander Schauffele bogeys his 12th
The par-3 third and drops out of the joint lead – that hole has got the better of several golfers today – but not Mickelson who gets up and down for his par – he stays at two-over.
An Italian job at Torrey
Wolff’s remarkable round
Rodgers bogeys 14
So he’s back to sharing the lead with Koepka and Schauffele on three-under.
Brooks has a birdie putt on the fourth (his 13th) but misses on the high side.
Wolff’s playing partner…
…Tommy Fleetwood is putting together a fine round. A fourth successive par leaves him on two-under through 13. He nearly won at Shinnecock Hills three years ago, beaten only by Koepka – US Opens suit him…
Matthew Wolff’s topsy-turvy round
Wolff hits a brilliant shot out of the right rough to set up a good birdie chance on the 4th (his 13th). He’s now on two-under and is without a par in his past eight holes. He’s gone: bogey, double bogey, bogey, birdie, birdie, birdie bogey, birdie. Fair to say his round is topsy-turvy.
Your new leader
Patrick Rodgers moves to four-under and the sole lead
…with a birdie at the 13th – that’s two in a row for the American.
Meanwhile, Koepka, having gone long with his tee shot at the 12th, has to take a drop. He scrambles for his first bogey of the day. Morikawa also bogeys (to move back to one-over), as does Justin Thomas (he’s now at one-over). three bogeys from three top players on one of the shorter holes – who said you need mammoth, lengthy par-3s?
How to play like hackers
Morikawa is three under for his past three holes but he’s left himself a tough second on the par three-third (his 12th) it’s a beautiful hole (downhill, towards the sea) but he’ll do well to get up and down from there.
JT then hits his into the crowd on the right – that was a horrid blocked shot, at least 40 feet from where he’d have been aiming.
How Brooks moved to the top
We have new leader
And you get no prizes for guessing the identity of the new man at the top is Brooks Koepka.
He birdies the second (his 11th) to move to four-under. He loves a major, he loves the US Open and with four birdies and no bogeys is clearly the man to beat (early on, I know, but it’s Koepka at a major we’re talking about here…)
Meanwhile, Justin Thomas, his playing partner, is playing the steadiest of steady rounds. JT has 11 pars from his 11 holes – he’s at level par.
…joined the leaders on three-under with a birdie on 18. He hit a fine five-iron and just missed tghe eagle putt – the local boy is looking good.
Morikawa’s eagle at 18
‘Phil’ is two-over through his front nine
Mickelson – sorry I mean ‘Phil’ (there’s an unwritten law that says all journos in the USA have to call him ‘Phil’ not ‘Phil Mickelson’ nor ‘Mickelson’ – just plain old ‘Phil’) ends his opening nine on the 18th with a three-putt par that should have been a birdie. He’s on two -over.
Meanwhile, Wolff continues to say not to pars – he birdies the 11th to move back to two-under that’s six holes without a par now.
Pars for Hatton and Fitzpatrick
Tyrell Hatton is looking angry – not sure why, he’s chipped to below the hole to within six feet on the 10th. He makes par having sliced his drive – that’s worth a huge smile in my book.
His playing partner Matt Fitzpatrick misses a long birdie chance and stays at level par.
Brooks misses chance to move into solo lead
Koepka finds the heart of the fairway (no shock there) on the first and then hits his approach to 18 or so feet (distances aren’t my forte…apols…). He has another decent chance for birdie. Metronomic…Hepulls his putt and stays on three-under.
The top of the leaderboard
3-under: Henley (10), Koepka (9*)
2-under: Rodgers (11), Fleetwood (9*), Schauffele (7*)
*started on the back nine.
Two good putts
Two good putts – the first from Phil Mickelson moves him back to two over. The second from early leader Matthew Wolff, he birdies the 10th to get move to one-under. His last five holes read: bogey, double bogey, bogey, birdie, birdie…who needs pars?
Watch out Brooks is about
And is meaning serious business.
He birdies 18 to move to three-under and join Henley at the top of the leaderboard. I said he was looking in ominous form 10 mins ago. I’ll now add a ‘very’ to that.
That’s more like it from…
…Collin Morikawa…He was expected to do well here but, with three bogeys, started off badly. However, he leaves the front nine with a smile on his face thanks to an eagle at 18. He’s now on one-over and moving in the right direction.
Go Tommy, Tommy Fleetwood
Is now part of the ever-expanding group on two under, at the top of the leaderboard.
He birdied three of the last five holes on his opening nine (the back nine), He’s done well at the US Open before and once again the likeable Englishman is making (an early, admittedly) charge.
Meanwhile, Ian Poulter gets back one of his two dropped shots with a birdie at the 6th to get back to one-over.
Watch out Bryson
Brooks Koepka is silently going about his very impressive business.
He birdies the 17th – his 8th – to join the leaders on two-under. No bogeys yet and he’s putting together a very good round. Ominous…
Cameron Young is out in…
…In 34 shots and he joins the group on two under. He only got his spot through sectional qualifying last week.
Ok, think it’s safe to say no one is currently scared of Matthew Wolff
He’s now dropped another shot – that four gone in three holes. The early leader is at one-over and in a matter of minutes he’s gone from top of the leaderboard to joint 35th.
Just five at the top now
That’s because Tyrrell Hatton has dropped a shot at the 7th.
The five at the top of the leaderboard are…
Sahith Theegala, Patrick Rodgers, Cameron Young, Xander Schauffele and Russell Henley – all on two-under.
The old adage that bogeys can easily become doubles at the US Open annoyingly proves to be true at the 7th for Fitzpatrick. He drops from joint leader to tied for 16th on level par.
Ian Poulter has work to do
He’s one-over through five and then sends his approach the the sixth the wrong side of the bunker into the rough. That will be a very tough (if not slightly impossible) for the Englishman.
Quick word on Shane Lowry
Having started off well – he was one-under through three – he had a bit of a ‘mare on the fourth. He triple bogeyed the par four to send him to two-over. BUT good news for Shane fans (who doesn’t like the Irishman?!), he birdied the sixth and is now on one-over.
The leaderboard is changing a lot
At the moment – there’s now a six-way tie at the top.
Wolff losing his bite?
After his quick start Wolff has dropped two more shots – he double bogeys the 16th – he’s now at level par. His playing partner Tommy Fleetwood birdies to move to the same score.
Matt Fitzpatrick joins the leaders on two-under
That’s all thanks to a birdie at the sixth.
Here’s that leaderboard in photo form
Told you it was a beautiful course
Well, most coastal courses tend to be…
Wolff drops back to two-over
His first blemish of the round, on 15, sees him drop back to the co-lead.
Top of the leaderboard: Wolff is alongside Francesco Molinari, Tyrrell Hatton, Si Woo Kim and Patrick Rodgers
Mickelson is in trouble
Shortsided in the deep rough on 13, he chips and leaves himself a six-footer for a bogey. Can he make it? YES. HE. CAN. It’s bogey but could have been a lot worse.
He knew he couldn’t go left there but his poor approach left in a heap of trouble…he’s now two-over through four
Back to the bushes…
…where we find Phil Mickelson. He has to take a drop and needs to get down in two to save par. He plays a great chip BUT horror of horrors it hits the flag stick and flies into the rough – OUCH…
Solid from Brooks
Koepka hits a lovely flighted pitch from 114 yards into the 14th. He can’t capitalise and he stays on one-under, no problems with that – that’s a solid start from the man who saves his best for majors.
Mickelson is in the bushes
The US PGA champions hits an wood into the folliage on the par-five 13th – horrible shot that was headed for the bush from the moment it left the club face. He’ll have to take a drop, you’d suspect.
Who’s afraid of Matthew Wolff?
If he continues to putt like this a few of his pros might be…
Can’t read too much into the leaderboard so far…
…But it’s looking good for the Europeans.
Hatton is on two-under, with Francesco Molinari, Henrik Stenson, Matt Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland and Bernd Wiesberger all on the group on one-under.
Justin Thomas stays at level par
JT can putt and he needed to as he left himself a 15-foot breaker for par on the 13th. He stays at level par.
Meanwhile his compatriot misses a good chance for birdie on the same hole and he remains on two-over through four.
Their fellow playing partner Brooks Koepka is on one-under.
Tyrrell Hatton has put for three-under
What a start this would be – he’s got a four-footer for the joint lead…
He misses it right. It’s still a great start and he stays on two-under.
Wolff is now solo leader
What a start from the America who has been in a mini-slump recently. He’s birdied his fourth and is three-under through four. Great start from the bit (twitchy) hitter.
Molinari is now two-under
Through four – early days, I know, but he looks like he’s back to his metronomic ways of fairways and greens.
MIckelson has a knee-trembler for par
On the second. He needs it to avoid a bogey-bogey start – he makes the five-footer and his nerves are settler.
Meanwhile Hatton has a putt to go to three-under through three – it’s almost too good to be true. It’s a right-left breaker and it just misses. He stays at two-under.
Koepka starts well, Morikawa not so much…
Brooks is one-under though three but one of the favourites, the Collin with two Ls is two-over through three. He needs to hang on. The US Open is a war of attrition and a few pars from now will help him out.
The current leaderboard
Great start for Hatton
The Englishman is off to a fast start – he’s birdied the second and is two-under through two. He now co-leads with Matthew Wolff.
Francesco Molinari has a put to join them but his effort is short.
Bogey start for Big Phil
Mickelson somehow ended up in the righthand bunker and short sided himself. He pitches out to 20 feet and his par-putt lips out – OUCH! A bogey start for lefty.
Brilliant start for Marcus Armitage
‘The Bullet” fires his way to the top. He’s birdied the 13th and joins the packed group on one-under at the top of the leaderboard.
Lowry birdies the second
And the Open champion joins the group of eight on one-under at the top of the leaderboard.
One-under: Lowry, Sigg, Kuchar, Hatton, Fitzpatrick, Rodgers, Wolff, Molinari
Great start for British pair!
Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrell Hatton both birdie the first! it could have been even better for Hatton.
Phil Mickelson gets his bid to win the grand slam started
Everyone’s favourite calf model and 50-year-old major champion starts on the 449-yard 10th and drives into the fringe – that’s fine. He’s won all the majors bar this one…he’s won at Torrey Pines three times before – he couldn’t, could he?
Xander Schaufele is playing alongside Lefty and is another good bet for the title. In four starts he’s never finished lower than sixth, is a San Diego native and know this course well. His drive is safe on the fringe.
Here’s why you need to avoid the rough
Four men on that score at the moment they are…
Francesco Molinari, Matt Wolff, Greyson Sigg and Patrick Rodgers
The Champion Golfer of the Year is under way
Shane Lowry starts from the first, he chips to three feet and makes par as does Henrik Stenson. Their playing partner Francesco Molinari makes birdie. He’s been out of form for over a year now but can he find form here? He’s always been about finding fairways and greens…
Armitage is level through three – solid and impressive start from the Englishman (who everyone who owns a heart will want to do well)
Par saves from Collin (note the two Ls) and JT
Both Morikawa and Thomas play delightful bunker shots and both save par at 10 – that’s how to start on these quick greens. Koepka also pars.
Trouble for US duo
Morikawa short sides himself into the 10th green, Thomas then plays exactly the same shot – both in the bunker.
Brooks, meanwhile, is safely on the green, some 25 feet from the hole.
Fleetwood makes par
Through the back on his first he got up and down for a four that will feel like a par. So often the key to US Opens is hanging on, making fours instead of fives, fives not sixes and par, more often that not is a good score, there’s no need to go birdie hunting. Tiger Woods won here in 2008 with one-under…
Big-name US trio are off
Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka have hit their tee shots at the 10th.
Morikawa is strongly fancied this weekend. His game suits US Open set up, tops the PGA Tour in greens-in-regulation stats and knows how to win a major. Let’s hope I haven’t given him the kiss of death…
All three are in a good position off the tee.
Tommy Fleetwood is under way
And through the back in his first hole.
Meanwhile Marcus Armitage is level par through two – a good par-save putt at 11.
1 – Sigg, Gomez, Rodgers – 1-under
4 – Theegale, E Molinari, Kennedy – level par
Big names about to get under way
Here are some tee times to watch out for…
From the first tee
4:59 Francesco Molinari (Ita), Henrik Stenson (Swe), Shane Lowry (Ire)
5:10 Matt Fitzpatrick (Eng), Tyrrell Hatton (Eng), Viktor Hovland (Nor)
5:21 Martin Kaymer (Ger), Webb Simpson (US), Gary Woodland (US)
5:54 Jimmy Walker (US), Ian Poulter (Eng), Ryan Palmer (US)
From the 10th tee
4:59 Justin Thomas (US), Collin Morikawa (US), Brooks Koepka (US)
5:10 Matt Kuchar (US), Kevin Kisner (US), Billy Horschel (US)
5:21 Xander Schauffele (US), Phil Mickelson (US), Max Homa (US)
5:32 Jason Kokrak (US), Corey Conners (Can), Cameron Champ (US)
Marcus Armitage gets his round under way
What a story this Briton has – from regular visits to Q School, staying at dodgy digs miles from the course to the US Open. It’s an inspirational story, our very own James Corrigan wrote: “Since the start of 2020, the Yorkshireman they call “The Bullett” has accumulated more than £500,000 and two weeks ago won his first European Tour title, the European Open. In emotional scenes, Armitage recounted a personal tale of tragedy, grief and salvation. He lost his mum at 13, left school immediately and found peace with a club in his hands – a love affair which he has never let go.”
Armitage started on the 10th and opened with a solid par.
READ: Marcus Armitage and Dave Coupland, the odd couple who swapped Airbnb for a place among the golfing elite
Proof there is actual play at Torrey Pines
I bring you good news
The starters are out on the course and have hit their tee shots – HURRAH.
While they’re out on the first and 10th fairways (a two-tee start) here’s a good read on the scrap everyone is talking about – it’s Joshua vs Fury but with five irons not fists…and with the added bonus this fight is actually happening…
The thing is these two are among the favourites for the title (one is the defending champ (DeChambeau) the other has won it twice before (Koepka) and could well end up paired together over the weekend (form over the first two rounds permitting…)
READ: ‘It’s just banter’ – Brooks Koepka will not let Bryson DeChambeau feud disturb US Open title tilt
What to expect from the course
Well, the USGA can take any course and render it very hard. US Opens tend to be set up with narrow fairways, penal (as in do not go anywhere near it) rough and window panes for greens. Some feel this contributes to dull (ish) defensive golf but there’s little doubting this major does have a unique identity.
Lee Westwood put it best when asked about strategy this week when he said…
“Stay out of the rough, Hit lots of fairways and greens. Putt well! Simple!”
Trust me, Torrey Pines is a beautiful course…
What am I aiming at?
Phil Mickelson hits into the void as fog shrouds the course and prevents play at Torrey Pines.
A US Open at Torrey Pines? Bring it on…
When one thinks of the US Open at Torrey Pines one thinks of golfing greatness and whatever happens over the next four days it will be hard pressed to top what we saw in 2008.
Tiger Woods has produced many jaw-dropping feats at majors – his first Masters in 1997, his run-away victory at Pebble Beach at the 2000 US Open and his iron-play masterclass at the 2006 Open at Hoylake just months after his Dad’s death, are just three that stand out. But perhaps Torrey Pines is the scene of his greatest victory. The American great winced in pain after almost every shot as he literally limped his way to a play-off victory over Rocco Mediate. What we later learned is that Woods had been playing with a fractured leg and torn cruciate ligament, following knee surgery nine months earlier.
There is now a plaque at the San Diego course to commemorate one of sport’s greatest victories and it and the US Open returning to Torrey Pines, is a reminder, if ever we needed one, that there still exists a Tiger-shaped hole in golf.
There are many ways to try and fill that hole. One is Japan, a golf-mad country if ever there was one, celebrating its first major winner as the country did after Hideki Matsuyama’s victory at the Masters in April.
Another is Phil Mickelson becoming the oldest man to win a major as he memorably did last month winning the USPGA Championship aged 50 – becoming a new hero to those who wake up with creaking bones and grey hair in the process.
Or you could get involved in a very public spat with a fellow pro and make your dislike of him known to everyone with an Internet connection, as Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau are doing and, who knows, may continue to do so as this tournament progresses.
That is one of many subplots as we head into the year’s third major, one that – as with the previous two – is open. Stay here for all the action from round one. The big names are about to tee it up and we’ll bring you all the big news from the picturesque course by the Pacific Ocean.