Johnson and Stenson share lead
Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson carded five-under rounds of 65 to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the US Open.
However, it was Tiger Woods who dominated much of the talk at Chambers Bay, with the former world number one slumping to a 10-over-par round of 80, the fourth worst round of his career.
Current world number one Rory McIlroy faired slightly better to sit at two-under, while Phil Mickelson’s bid for a first US Open title began with a 69.
Stenson started strongly with birdies at the second and third, with a third birdie at the eighth sandwiched either side of bogeys at the seventh and ninth. Having taken the turn in 34, Stenson made his move on the closing holes, with four birdies in five holes from the 14th to the 18th propelling him to five under alongside Johnson.
“I was striking it nicely, which led to a lot of birdie opportunities for me,” the Swede told europeantour.com.
“I felt like I was really keeping my patience and a level head out there and very focused on the things that I wanted to be focused on.
“I hit some beautiful putts and managed to slip a few in there. It was a good way to finish the day.
“One day out of four done, and we’re right there with where we want to be. It’s still a long journey until Sunday afternoon, of course, but a good start always helps.”
The big-hitting Johnson took advantage of his length off the tee, to card six birdies and a single bogey.
Having started on the back nine, Johnson birdied the 11th and 12th to take the turn in 33. Four birdies early on his closing nine meant that birdies on his last two holes would equal the low round in US Open history, but a par at the eighth and a bogey four at the par-three ninth saw the record, and the outright lead, slip away.
“I really felt like I swung it well and hit a lot of quality iron shots,” the American told pgatour.com.
“So the confidence is definitely there. I feel really good about where I’m at going into tomorrow.”
One back is Patrick Reed who fired a 66, with Matt Kuchar and Ben Martin a further shot adrift on three-under.
World number two Jordan Spieth and Australian Jason Day form part of an eight-man group on two-under.
Three-time major champion Mickelson, who is bidding to complete a career Grand Slam, has finished runner-up at the U.S. Open a record six times and ‘Lefty’ got off to a strong start, taking the turn in three-under. However, three bogeys and a single birdie on the back nine meant he had to settle for a one-under par 69.
World number one Rory McIlroy is seven shots off the pace, with the Ulsterman unable to make use of the advantage handed to the early starters. McIlroy struggled with his putting technique throughout his round of 72, with the relatively poor putting surfaces on offer not helping his cause.
McIlroy carded two birdies and two bogeys in his opening seven holes and after a run of eight pars, bogeyed two of his last three holes to enter the clubhouse at two-over.
Paired with Rickie Fowler and Louis Oosthuizen, Woods and his playing partners endured a day to forget, with the trio posting a combined total of 26-over-par.
It was hard to watch Woods on Thursday. A player a shadow of the man who once dominated golf, the American produced some of the day’s worst shots as his struggles off the tee continued.
But it wasn’t only off the tee that Woods battled, with a missed five-foot putt for par on the sixth and topped iron on the final hole just two examples of an all-round struggle.
Woods bogeyed three of the first four holes, with a bogey at six seeing him take the turn in 39. It didn’t get any better on the back nine, with a run of three bogeys from the 11th to the 13th followed by a double-bogey at the 14th.
A birdie at the 15th was a very rare bright spot, with a another dropped shot at the 18th an unfortunately fitting end to Woods’ day.
Matters were even worse for Fowler who finished on eleven-over. The only man standing between Woods, Fowler and the bottom of the leaderboard was club pro Rich Berberian Jr. who carded an 83.
‘My best is ahead of me’ – Justin Rose motivated by winning majors, not rankings
The Englishman endured a first winless season since 2009 in 2020 and starts this week’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic ranked 38th in the world.
Justin Rose concerned about his chances of defending his Olympic title
Rose won gold in Rio in 2016 but the former world number one is currently outside the qualifying places.
Rory McIlroy on latest near-miss in Abu Dhabi: ‘I don’t feel like I played great’
McIlroy avoids mentioning final-round blues but admits he needs to get more consistent.
Tyrrell Hatton eyes Ryder Cup spot after winning Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Hatton carded a closing 66 to finish 18 under par.
Tyrrell Hatton wins Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as Rory McIlroy misses out
Australia’s Jason Scrivener recorded an eagle and five birdies in a back nine of 29 to claim second place.
Rory McIlroy leads the way in Abu Dhabi as he eyes overdue victory
McIlroy will have to keep his Ryder Cup team-mates at bay if he is to claim the trophy.
Tyrrell Hatton dominant as Rory McIlroy falters in Abu Dhabi
Hatton led by five shots at the end of a second weather-affected day.
Phil Mickelson on Tiger’s latest surgery: ‘I feel bad because golf should be a game of a lifetime’
Mickelson admitted he was saddened by the news of Woods’ latest back surgery.
Rory McIlroy makes brilliant start to fog-affected Abu Dhabi Championship
McIlroy has a remarkable record in Abu Dhabi with four second-place finishes.
Rory McIlroy shines in Abu Dhabi to take first-round lead following flawless 64
McIlroy has a remarkable record in Abu Dhabi with four second-place finishes, three thirds and a fifth in his last nine starts, but has never won.