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Rickie Fowler Leads U.S. Open After Record Round 1



ERIN, Wis. — Rickie Fowler tied a U.S. Open record on Thursday at Erin Hills with his opening 7-under 65, and now he leads his country’s national championship by one stroke over Paul Casey and Xander Schauffele after 18 holes.

Fowler’s bogey-free 65 tied the lowest score to par (7-under) in Round 1 in the 117-year history of this tournament. The only other golfers to do it were Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf who both shot 7-under 63s in Round 1 at the 1980 Open at Baltusrol.

The crazy part? It was a carefree 65, if there is such a thing at this tournament, that could have been even better. Fowler hit 12 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in regulation. He burned the edge on a handful of birdie putts down the stretch. We could have had some legit history on our hands.

“You don’t get many rounds at the U.S. Open that are stress-free,” said Fowler. “Just did a good job, knew I needed to drive it well, and from there just able to manage hitting and continuing to swing well and hitting good shots and rolling a couple in.”

“It’s a lot easier said than done. 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. You’re going to miss putts. You’re not going to make everything. So definitely happy with the start.”

Fowler came in having missed the last two cuts at this event as well as a MC last week at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He’s had maybe the best year of his career thus far, winning at the Honda Classic and nearly winning the Memorial Tournament, Phoenix Open and Houston Open. The former Poke is in the top 10 in the world in driving and putting, a lethal combination on any course in any tournament.

Winning U.S. Opens is hard as hell, though, and Fowler is 54 holes from raising a trophy.

Interestingly, I overheard Brandt Snedeker (who shot 2-under 70) say this afternoon he thinks 5 under will win the golf tournament. If that’s true, then Fowler can take it home with a 72-73-73 close. Fowler (sort of) agreed with Sneds.

“I’ll just take the cumulative of that (7 under) for three days and I’ll wait and go over there and see what that does,” said Fowler laughing after his round at a score that would put him at 14 under and definitely give him the win. “I don’t need a whole lot more after putting 7 up today.”

Fowler was one of just two golfers in the world top 10 to post a score under par on Thursday (Sergio Garcia was the other), but he knows he’s got a long way to go to hit paydirt. Still, he does have a bit of history working in his favor. The last six (!) major championship winners have been first-timers, and one would think Fowler is next in line to get No. 1. If he plays remotely like he did in Round 1, he will.

“Yeah, it’s cool, but it’s just the first round,” said Fowler of tying the all-time scoring record on Thursday. “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.”

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