Justin Thomas led the way with six birdies and only one bogey from a bad lie in the bunker, finishing with a 25-foot birdie putt that he barely touched for a 5-under 65 at the U.S. Open from Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, NY.
It was the lowest score in a U.S. Open at Winged Foot, which is hosting the Open for the sixth time dating to 1929. And it was worth only a one-shot lead over Patrick Reed, University of Illinois alum Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Matthew Wolff, the 21-year-old Californian making his U.S. Open debut.
Rory McIlroy, who has been struggling to get off to a decent start in the majors, opened with a 67 and tried to contain his disappointment it wasn’t lower. He had a pair of three-putts that held him back, one on the 329-yard sixth where he hit driver onto the middle of the green and had to settle for par.
McIlroy was among those two shots behind on a scoreboard filled with red numbers, an unusual site for Winged Foot. In the previous five U.S. Opens, a total of 17 players were under par after the first round. On Thursday, there were 21.
Patrick Reed and Will Zalatoris made a hole-in-one on No. 7, and Zalatoris somehow missed another ace on No. 13. Spanish amateur Eduard Rousand holed out for eagle from the first fairway with his second shot in his U.S. Open debut. Louis Oosthuizen holed out for eagle on second fairway.
Tiger Woods was in five bunkers through five holes and then appeared to steady himself with three straight birdies around the turn to get under par, but only briefly. He made three bogeys coming in, still had a chance to post a reasonable score and then let it get away.
From short of the steep shelf fronting the 18th green, he flubbed a flop shot, pitched the next one about 8 feet beyond the pin and missed the putt to take double bogey for a 73.
Colin Morikawa, who shot 40 on the back nine for a 76.
Pieters and Wolff dropped only one shot along the way while playing in the afternoon when the greens became a little more difficult because of all the foot traffic.