Rickie Fowler leads the early charge in the US Open

Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Louis Oosthuizen took advantage of a perfect morning to storm into the lead at the US Open. Anirban Lahiri was working hard to recover from a bruising start.

14
Rickie Fowler takes the lead in the 119th US Open - USGA Images

14 June 2019: On a perfect spring morning in the Monterey Peninsula, the world’s best, made light of the stiff Pebble Beach challenge indulging in a birdie binge. Rickie Fowler, still looking for his first major, as is Xander Schauffele raced out of the gates with a comforting 66 to snatch the early lead. Louis Oosthuizen knows a thing or two more than those two gentlemen, having won the 2010 Open Championship. The South African joined the party at the top with a 66 dampened by just the lone bogey at the 16th hole.

Hideki Matsuyama was the best placed Asian, firing a two-under 69 in the opening round. The Japanese made a terrific eagle at the 14th hole, chipping in from just outside the green. But he also conceded bogey at the 7th, 10th and 18th to settle for a 69, good enough for T13 midway through the round.

Anirban Lahiri had a horrid start. He went Bogey-Bogey-Double Bogey soon as he started off the 10th tee. He drove 300 yards to the left and was dealing with the unforgiving rough at Pebble Beach. He reached the green with his third but left himself twelve feet to the cup, leading to the bogey.

At the par-3 12th, Anirban was stuck in the deep rough before he worked his way back to the green and two-putted from inside ten feet for that double.

He did well to steady the boat though, making a string of pars to settle into a nice rhythm. At the 16th, Anirban was forced to hack out back on to the fairway with his second shot from the left. Unperturbed he sent his third right under the flag before knocking in the par putt from four feet.

Fowler had an opportunity to emulate Tiger Woods and post a 65, the best opening round in a US Open at the Pebble Beach. But his birdie putt on the 18th kissed the edge of the cup but refused to drop.

 “It’s nice when you can go shoot a stress-free 66 and get off to a good start,” said a visibly delighted Fowler.
 
Schauffele and Oosthuizen worked up a sweat to ensure they matched the pace set by Fowler. The former made an eagle at the 18th with a brilliant 10-footer into the cup to secure his 66. The South African went one better, working a 50-footer from inside the bunker to birdie the last hole for his 66.
 
Aaron Wise joined the gang at the top when he made successive birdies at the 3rd and 4th holes on his way back to the clubhouse. Wise started the day with a bogey at the 10th, one of the most difficult pins on the day, but played well from there to surge up the leaderboard. (-5 through 14* holes at the time of this report)
 
Earlier in the day, Scott Piercy threatened to tear the script with a rousing start. He was five under through the first six holes, before a double at the 8th and a bogey at the 18th restrained him to a 67.
 
Rory McIlroy missed the cut three times in a row at the US Open. But with ten top tens and two wins, he is in great form again. If he was looking for a rousing start, he was in for a rude shock. The 10th was playing hard to get on Thursday and it got McIlroy stumbling soon as he got off the blocks, making a bogey to start his round.
 
But he put that wound to bed quickly, with a birdie at the 13th and another at the 17th hole. Rory made back to back birdies at two and three before coasting home on a string of pars for a well made 68. Rory is two back from the leading trio, in the company of Gary Woodland, Sepp Straka and Emiliano Grillo.