Rickie Fowler carded a flawless round of 65 to open up a one-stroke lead at the US Open (Getty Images)
Rickie Fowler feels confident of breaking his major duck at Erin Hills this week after matching the best opening round score in US Open history.
Fowler, 28, has amassed six top-10 finishes in 29 major starts and is regarded by many as the best active golfer on Tour yet to win a major.
After witnessing Sergio Garcia end his major hoodoo at the Masters in April, the American is ready to follow in the Spaniard’s footsteps after racing out the blocks on day one of the 117th US Open with seven birdies without loss to open up a one-stroke lead.
“It’s always cool to be part of some kind of history in golf,” said Fowler. “But I’d rather be remembered for something that’s done on a Sunday.
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US OPEN: 1ST ROUND LEADERBOARD
-7 R Fowler (US)
-6 P Casey (Eng), X Schauffele (US)
-5 B Koepka, B Harman (US), T Fleetwood (Eng)
-4 P Reed, K Na (US), A Hadwin (Can), M Leishman (Aus)
-2 S Garcia (Spa)
+1 J Spieth (US)
+3 D Johnson (US)
+6 R McIlroy (NI)
+7 J Day (Aus)
“There are a lot of really good players out here that haven’t won a major. So it would be nice to get rid of that at some point. I’m not saying that this is the week or isn’t the week but I like the way this course suits me.”
Starting out in the morning on the 10th hole, Fowler rolled in birdies at the 11th, 12th, 14th and 18th before turning around to the front side to birdie the first, second and seventh.
“You don’t get many rounds at the US Open that are stress-free,” he said.
“I just did a good job. I knew I needed to drive it well; from there I was able to hit good shots and roll a couple of putts in. So, it was a simple day when you look back on it and how we kind of pieced our way around the course, but it is a lot easier said than done.
“The first thing is getting off to a good start Thursday, keeping that rolling and getting ourselves in contention Sunday. There’s a lot of golf to be played but I’m ready to be out there contending.”
England’s Paul Casey is just one stroke back after an opening 66 (Getty Images)
Hot on Fowler’s heels is another player searching for his maiden major title in England’s Paul Casey, who chipped in for eagle at his opening hole and added six birdies and two bogeys for a round of 6-under 66, also matched late in the day by little-known American Xander Schauffele.
“I don’t think I’ve ever started a US Open with a birdie, let alone an eagle so that was a great start,” said Casey.
“I’m feeling really, really good about this golf course. It’s not a classic, but I really like it.”
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Brooks Koepka, Brian Harman and England’s Tommy Fleetwood signed for rounds of 67 to lie two strokes behind on 5-under.
Kevin Na, who came under some criticism for his social media post about the rough earlier in the week, posted a solid 68 to join Patrick Reed, Marc Leishman and Adam Hadwin.
Lee Westwood and Andrew Johnston carded rounds of 69 to lie just four strokes off the pace with a host of others, while Masters champion Garcia birdied the final hole for a round of 70.
It was a day to forget for both Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson (Getty Images)
It was a day to forget for many of the big names with 2015 US Open champion Jordan Spieth posting a 1-over 72, defending champion and world number one Dustin Johnson hitting a 3-over 75, Rory McIlroy shooting a 6-over 78 in his competitive return from a one-month break through a rib injury, and Jason Day making birdie at the final hole just to break 80.
Phil Mickelson withdrew prior to the start of the tournament after not being able to make his afternoon tee-time due to his daughter’s graduation. The five-time major champion had been hoping for a suspension in play and the tee times being moved back, but there was to be no such joy.
Earlier in the day, a commercial blimp caught fire and crashed at Erin Hills. Watch the footage here.
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