After the best golfers in the world bludgeoned Erin Hills at last year's U.S. Open, it was expected the USGA would make Shinnecock Hills a massive challenge at this year's event.
Consider that job done, because the presence of a stiff breeze helped an already challenging course produce absolute carnage Thursday, with only four players breaking par in Round 1 of the 2018 U.S. Open.
Given the trying conditions, it's probably fitting that Dustin Johnson, a man seemingly unperturbed by even the biggest distraction on a golf course, stands alongside Ian Poulter, Russell Henley, and Scott Piercy atop the leaderboard.
The world's top-ranked golfer continued his torrid play after last week's dominant win in Memphis, birdieing three holes on the front side, including a brilliant hole-out from the bunker on the par-4 eighth. Johnson avoided any major trouble on the way to sit in the four-way tie for the lead at 1-under.
|Place||Player||Round 1 score||Total to par|
|T6||Charles Howell III||71||+1|
|T6||Byeong Hun An||71||+1|
Justin Rose, many people's pick to win at the links-style setup, fired a 1-over 73, while other favorites Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas shot a 73 and 74, respectively, each besting the scoring average of 76.
While the aforementioned turned in some quality golf, the same can't be said for other favorites in the field. The morning super-group including Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and Phil Mickelson sputtered all day, combining for a 25-over-par total, with McIlroy's 10-over 80 the worst of the three rounds.
It wasn't much better for Tiger Woods, as the 42-year-old labored to an 8-over 78. Woods began his day in the worst possible fashion, hacking it around the opening hole for a triple-bogey 7. He seemed to be turning things around heading to the back nine, but back-to-back double bogeys, including a four-putt on 13 saw the three-time champ struggle and sit nine shots off the lead after 18 holes.
With the wind expected to die down for Friday's second round, the scores should drop significantly, but the big names will have to post something special to have any hope of getting back in contention.
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