14 June 2019: After an uncharacteristically prolific day of scoring at the US Open, Justin Rose climbed up a leaderboard littered with stars with a record-equalling 65 in the opening round of the 119th US Open. On a fine day with barely any wind in the morning and soft greens, a bunch of golfers took advantage to post under-par scores, giving the leaderboard a very PGA TOUR like appearance. Anirban Lahiri overcame a disastrous start to battle through an engaging day for a 74 as he returned to the US Open after a three-year hiatus.
Rory McIlroy made the most of the morning conditions for a 68 that placed him within striking distance of the leaders, three strokes barely any margin on a course notorious for its penalising errant golf.
Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth, playing in the same group as Rose, scrambled all day as they struggled with their irons. The duo posted 70 and 72 respectively, with Woods clearly happy to have escaped with an under-par card.
“I didn’t hit my irons as crisp as I’d like. I tried to miss the ball in the correct spots, and a couple of times where I had wedges in my hand I was just dumping, center of the green, move on, get my 30-, 40-footer and move on about my business and take my medicine when I was in a bad spot,” elaborated Tiger.
Rose refused to get ahead of himself despite emulating Woods’ score of 65 in that epochal 2000 US Open at Pebble Beach. With Mark Fulcher home on indefinite leave, Rose has Gareth Lord on his bag this week. The 2013 US Open champion will go to bed hoping that his new partnership with Lord works just as well.
Three straight birdies at the end set up his 65 and the birdie putt at the 18th with Tiger for witness must have felt incredibly special for Rose.
“I wouldn’t say it’s exhilarating, because I feel like my mindset is I am in a 72 hole tournament,” Rose said. “This is just a very small step towards the outcome. So you don’t feel like that buzz that you would on a Sunday, but you can’t help but look around over your shoulder, and dam, this is Pebble Beach. Shot 65 and you’re in the U.S. Open. It’s a cool moment. Whatever transpires the rest of the week, it was a cool moment.”