June 14, 2018: Shubhankar Sharma fought like a gallant warrior, going back and forth against a venomous course to eke out a respectable start on his first visit to the US Open. He made a couple of brilliant birdies along the way but eventually settled for a 74 under demanding conditions. The first round of the US Open saw an enormous amount of bleeding golfers, who were conceding bogeys by the bucket.
The wind was steady and relentless. The fescue at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club behaved as if it’s sole purpose was to torment golfers. There was blood spilt on the course on the opening day of the 118th US Open. The clubhouse leaders, Scott Piercy and Ian Poulter were sitting pretty midway through the day after signing on a one under 69 for their first round.
The feature group of Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy turned out to be flag bearers to the kind of punishment being meted out to unsuspecting golfers. The three men were 7, 8 and 10 over par respectively after a miserable opening round in the blustering winds. With scores of 77, 78 and 80 to their names, they marched away wondering how they stumbled into this landmine.
Under the circumstances, Shubhankar showed plenty of gumption and conviction. He started his day with a par at the first hole, but dropped to two over by the fourth hole.
Shubhankar played a brilliant 262 yard second shot to the edge of the green on the fifth hole. His third was pitch perfect, travelling nearly 60 feet to the flag, leaving Shubhankar with a short putt for birdie.
But a third bogey at the fifth hole meant that Shubhankar was back at two over. The ninth was a spectacular hole that underlined Shubhankar’s great promise. The Indian nailed a brilliant birdie putt from 42 feet to make the turn at one over, lurking just outside the top ten.
Despite playing with plenty of discipline, Shubhankar was forced to concede bogeys at 11 and 14 as he proceeded to the finishing holes at three over par.
The 16th must have hurt Shubhankar, who seemed to hit a fat wedge, to squander an extra shot in the fairway bunker on the left. But he did well to put that behind him and save par to remain at three over.
But Shubhankar sailed way right on the 17th hole and worked his way back to another bogey. Shubhankar made 71% of the fairways but managed to convert it to merely 39% greens in regulation, against a field average of 50%.
The 21 year old played well on the greens though, taking 28 putts, while the rest of the field was needing nearly 32 putts for the round.
Hideki Matsuyama was among the earliest players to return to the comforts of the clubhouse. The Japanese star shot a 75, as did the defending champion Brooks Koepka. Satoshi Kodaira was left licking his wounds after signing on a 11-over card of 81.