Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rory Struggles but He's Not Alone as the World's Top Players Fail to Impress

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rory Struggles but He's Not Alone as the World's Top Players Fail to Impress

Article excerpt

Byline: John Huggan at Erin Hills, Wisconsin

RICKIE FOWLER'S seven-under-par 65 yesterday in the 117th US Open at Erin Hills equalled the lowest opening rounds in the event's history.

But the bigger story of the day was the collective failure of golf 's very best to match not only the Californian's hot start but the more prosaic play of most of the 156-man field.

None of the five highest-ranked players in the world Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth could shoot lower than 73 as a US Open record of 44 competitors finished below par after 18 holes.

Best of the European contingent was Paul Casey. The world No 14 shot 66 to sit alongside the unlikely figure of American Xander Schauffele and one stroke better than Tommy Fleetwood. Lee Westwood, Andrew Johnston, and Bernd Wiesberger, of Austria, were the only other "old world" players under 70. All three shot 69.

All of which was in complete contrast to the fumbling and stumbling displays of McIlroy and Day. The Irishman may have edged out the Australian, 78 to 79, but it was McIlroy's performance that was the more memorable.

But not in a good way. The four-time Major champion hit only five of the 14 fairways no one was less accurate off the tee.

"I don't think I hit a fairway after the 10th," he admitted. "You cannot play this course if you are not in position off the tee.

"I wasn't in position and paid the price. My timing was a bit off. So I hit a series of really bad tee shots, which led to me not being able to get any decent looks at birdies. There was a bit of rust involved [this was only McIlroy's 20th competitive round of 2017] but the big problem was timing. I started hitting some shots left and when I tried to correct it I missed a couple to the right."

The foundation of Casey's round was his ability to find short grass with his first shot on nearly every hole. …

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