Tough day for Kiwis as McIlroy makes more noise at US Open

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Fri, 17 Jun 2022, 1:56pm
Ryan Fox plays a shot from a bunker. Photo / Getty
Ryan Fox plays a shot from a bunker. Photo / Getty

Tough day for Kiwis as McIlroy makes more noise at US Open

NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Fri, 17 Jun 2022, 1:56pm

Kiwi golfers Ryan Fox and Danny Lee have struggled to keep pace with the leaders after the first round of the US Open.

Fox, playing in his second major of the year, finished his first day at The Country Club in Brookline with a four-over 74, eight strokes behind leader Adam Hadwin of Canada.

Fox made three birdies, five bogeys, and a costly double bogey at the 15th in difficult windy conditions to sit in a tie for 102nd.

Fellow New Zealander Lee, who also had a late tee off time, had a tougher day with a six-over 76, including seven bogeys and just one birdie.

Both will have plenty of work to do if they are to make the cut, with the top 60 players moving on into the weekend.

Canada's Hadwin is the sole leader after round one.

Hadwin ran off three straight birdies at the end of the front nine and only dropped one shot on the back nine for a four-under 66. He leads by one shot over five players, including Rory McIlroy.

Dustin Johnson was "Low Liv". Of the players who were in the first Saudi-backed event last week in London, Johnson had the best score at 68.

Phil Mickelson ended his rough day with a 78. It's the sixth straight time he hasn't broken par in the first round of the US Open.

Hadwin got into the Open as an alternate from the Dallas qualifier when Paul Casey withdrew because of an ailing back.

On the LPGA Tour, Lydia Ko had an up-and-down day at the Meijer LPGA Classic in Belmont, Michigan.

Ko shot a two-under 70, but trails American Jennifer Kupcho by five shots after the first round.

McIlroy makes more noise at US Open, this time with clubs

Rory McIlroy in action. Photo / AP

Rory McIlroy in action. Photo / AP

Rory McIlroy made another bold statement at the US Open. This time it was with his golf.

McIlroy has become a leading voice on the PGA Tour over the last few years, particularly with his rebuke of the Saudi-funded series that is disrupting golf. The opening round at The Country Club was a reminder he's pretty good at his day job, too.

And a few fiery moments showed how badly he wants to end eight years without a major.

McIlroy made two straight birdies late in his round to become the first player to reach four under among early starters, only to miss the ninth green and make his only bogey for a three-under 67.

At the moment, McIlroy isn't concerned with his strong stance against Liv Golf.

"It's been eight years since I won a major," he said. "And I just want to get my hands on one again."

Even with a good start, and coming off a victory last week in the Canadian Open, it doesn't figure to be easy. The Country Club might be as accommodating as it gets all week, with moderate wind and cloud cover keeping the sun from making greens crispy and firm.

It was his second straight major - and third time in his last four US Opens - he opened with a score par. There is confidence in his game for winning last week in Toronto, and there is passion rare for a Thursday unless the game is going badly.

He tried to drive the reachable par-4 fifth hole and caught an awkward lie in the thick collar above a bunker, forcing him to stand in the sand. He hit that into another bunker, and then twice slammed the club into the sand out of frustration. But he managed to save par.

"You're going to encounter things at a US Open, whether they be lies or stuff like that, that you just don't really encounter any other week," he said. "It's hard not to get frustrated because I'm walking up there going, 'Just come back into the bunker.' The thickest rough on the course is around the edges of the bunker. So I was sort of cursing the USGA whenever I was going up to the ball."

And then from the ninth fairway, his approach sailed to the right and he flung his club. He couldn't save par on that one and had to accept a 67 - not a bad start, and no apologies for his few outbursts of emotion.

"Almost to remind yourself sometimes how much it means to you," he said.

There's a lot on the table outside of golf, too, with 13 players at the US Open who took part in the Saudi-backed Liv Golf last week, leading the PGA Tour to suspend those members.

McIlroy, the first to shut down talk of rival leagues in 2020, spoke passionately this week about building on the legacy handed down by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. For those taking the guaranteed money for 54-hole events, he said it felt like "the easy way out".

But now it's time for golf, and there a vibe of relief that focus could turn to a US Open that first came to Brookline more than a century ago. Thursday was more about birdies and bogeys - mostly the latter in a US Open - and a place in history.

No other major is more open - roughly half the 156-man field has to qualify - and it showed with those who shared the early lead with McIlroy.

Dahmen debated whether to go a 36-hole qualifier 10 days ago in Ohio. The US Open is hard and he has been beat up from travel and pedestrian results. Plus, it was supposed to rain. But he went anyway, and he qualified with one shot to spare.

Lingmerth was in the same qualifier and had to play 36 holes and then some because of a 5-for-1 playoff for the final spot. That went to Hayden Buckley - he was among those at 68 on Thursday - and Lingmerth was first alternate. He got in when Martin Kaymer withdrew.

Tarren got one of three spots in the Canadian qualifying site.

- with AP