Date: June 16, 2017
Author: Martin Blake

US Open wrap: Leish fires, Day bombs out

Rickie Fowler set a white-hot pace but Australia’s Marc Leishman has put himself into contention at the US Open at Erin Hills with an opening 68.

Leishman, who has already won once on tour this season, made five birdies against a single bogey in his opening round.

He is tied seventh, three shots behind the first-round leader, Fowler, who rattled around the Wisconsin course in seven under without a blemish on his record-equalling card.

But while Leishman was encouraged, fellow Aussie and world No.3 Jason Day had a calamitous front nine that ruined his chances. Day had two triple-bogeys from the infamous fescue grass – the first time ever that he has recorded two triples in a round in a tour event – and finished seven over after a closing birdie to avoid an inglorious 80.

Remarkably, Day was part of a statistic that nobody saw coming. Along with Dustin Johnson (+3), Rory McIlroy (+6), Hideki Matsuyama (+2), Jordan Spieth (+1) and Henrik Stenson (+2), the world's top-six ranked players finished a combined 21 over par on a day when 60 players fired par or bettter.

Among those at 72, almost as remarkably, was world No.12 Adam Scott, of Australia, who battled early, starting his day with a missed putt from inside 50cm on the par-five first. The former Masters champ was still four over through 14 holes and looked luckless, but he closed birdie-birdie-par-eagle, including an unlikely putt from the fringe on the last, to claw his way back to an even-par total.

South Australia’s Wade Ormsby had a nice round going in his first major appearance, but made double-bogeys at two of his last three holes to finish with a 75.

New South Welshman Nick Flanagan was steady through most of his round, but hopped on a rollercoaster that ended in bogey-par-birdie-bogey for a 75.

Conditions were good and the course did not prove as horrendously difficult as some of the players had forecast. Leishman’s high point came at the par-four fifth hole where he holed out with a wedge shot from 70 metres for birdie after driving into the deep fescue grass left of the fairway and needing to hack it out.

He hit an iron in close at the 10th for another birdie and then curled a left-to-righter from mid-range into the cup at the 12th reach five-under, joint-second, before finding the fescue again on the 17th and dropping his only shot of the day.

Fowler equalled the lowest first-round to par in US Open history, joining Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf who had seven-under in the 1980 Open at Baltusrol. The 28-year-old Fowler, still seeking his first major, hit 15 of the 18 greens in regulation and did not register a bogey.

He leads by a shot from Englishman Paul Casey, who began his round chipping in for eagle, and little-known American Xander Schauffele who was six under through 13 and missed some golden chances to join Fowler.

“You don't get many rounds at the US Open that are stress-free," Fowler said.

"I just did a good job, knew I needed to drive it well, and from there, [I was] just able to manage hitting and continuing to swing well, rolling a couple in.

"So, simple day when you look back on it, and how we kind of pieced our way around the golf course. A lot easier said than done."

The top 60 and ties make the cut after tomorrow's second round.