Golf-McIlroy trails U.S. Open leader Hadwin by one, Mickelson struggles
Tournament favourite Rory McIlroy was among the five-man pack sitting one shot back of Canada's Adam Hadwin after the first round of the U.S. Open on Thursday while Phil Mickelson struggled a week after making his LIV Golf debut.
Tournament favourite Rory McIlroy was among the five-man pack sitting one shot back of Canada's Adam Hadwin after the first round of the U.S. Open on Thursday while Phil Mickelson struggled a week after making his LIV Golf debut. Mickelson, playing on his 52nd birthday and three days after facing an onslaught of questions about his involvement with the Saudi-backed LIV series, shot an unsightly eight-over par 78 to sit near the bottom of the 156-player field at The Country Club.
A record six-time U.S. Open runner-up, Mickelson's self-imposed four-month hiatus following comments he made about the LIV circuit and PGA Tour was evident as soon as he set off in the tougher afternoon conditions. The long-time fan favourite bogeyed three of his first five holes and then made a double-bogey at the par-three sixth where he four-putted from 12 feet.
Mickelson, who struggled on the greens all day, added another double-bogey at the 12th hole before closing another bogey on a day when his latest bid for the career Grand Slam effectively came to an end. 'GREAT START'
McIlroy, who came into the year's third major fresh off a successful title defence in Canada, went out early and shot a three-under-par 67 and maintained a clean scorecard until a bogey at the final hole. That left Northern Ireland's McIlroy level with Englishman Callum Tarren, Swede David Lingmerth, American Joel Dahmen and South Africa's MJ Daffue.
"Even though I'm standing up here slightly frustrated that I bogeyed the last, it's a great start to the tournament," said McIlroy, who has gone nearly eight years since winning the last of his four major titles. "Just basically did everything that you need to do at a U.S. Open." Leader Hadwin, who has never finished better than 24th in his 19 major championship appearances, carded five birdies over a sizzling six-hole stretch on the front nine to surge up the leaderboard.
Hadwin, who has one PGA Tour win to his name, showed plenty of poise the rest of the way and coolly offset a bogey at the 12th with a birdie at the following en route to a 66 that marked his lowest score in 63 career rounds in major championships. "Not much better of a start to a U.S. Open I don't think that you can ask for. I did a lot of good things," said Hadwin.
"There's lots of golf left. I've been around the block a few times, and I've missed cuts from this position before." LIV CONTINGENT
Among a pack of seven golfers sitting two shots off the pace was former world number one and 2016 U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, who like Mickelson also decided to join the lucrative and controversial LIV series. Prior to the start of the round, a LIV Golf Twitter post read "Good Luck" and included headshots of the 15 players in the U.S. Open field who have joined its ranks.
Of those golfers, none fared better than the long-hitting Johnson and the worst score of the bunch was the 12-over 82 carded by Australian Jed Morgan. Defending champion and world number two Jon Rahm was level with PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and among a group sitting three shots back of Hadwin.
Rahm unleashed a sizable fist pump after draining a 21-foot putt at the last for a rather unusual birdie that came after a wayward tee shot that led to two kids taking his ball. "To hit two wayward drives in the last two holes and somehow end up with two birdie putts and making the last one -- it's more the fact of making putt to break par on the first round of the U.S. Open," said Rahm. "It's quite a big deal."
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