Shane Lowry was in no mood for a long fireside chat after a pair of closing bogeys robbed the Offaly golfer of a decent showing on the opening day of the 123rd hosting of the U.S. Open in Los Angeles.
Lowry signed for a two-over-par 72 to be lying inside the top-60 in dull, overcast conditions on the host L.A. Country Club course.
Also, somewhat spoiling a good morning’s work was Waterford’s Seamus Power, moving to one-under through 10 holes but giving back to the course with three bogeys over his closing seven holes, as he also recorded a 72.
Up front, the leaderboard in this year’s first U.S. Open in Beverly Hills already was lit-up with the names of the game’s best with four superstar Americans atop of the board.
Rickie Fowler, 34, a runner-up in the event nine-years ago, grabbed the lowest round in U.S.Open history as he carded 10 birdies in an eight-under 62, one fewer than Johnnie Miller’s closing 63 to win the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
However, the honour was short-lived with Fowler being joined on eight-under less than 30-minutes later by 2020 Olympic Gold medal winner Xander Schauffle, who did It bogey-free.
There has been five rounds of 63 in a US Open since Miller’s achievement including Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf in 1980 and also Tommy Fleetwood producing a 63 in his final round in 2018.
Last year’s Masters champ Scottie Scheffler quickly made his presence felt with a 67, and was matched by 2020 US Open champ, Bryson DeChambeau.
It was a positive start for Lowry, teeing-up in a 42nd career major championship, and his 11th U.S. Open since teeing-up firstly in the 2011 U.S. Open but missing the cut in the year Rory McIlroy blitzed the field at Congressional.
Lowry’s third shot at the first, from 112-yards out, was all over the flagstick before coming to rest some six-foot pin-high to the left of the flag for an opening birdie.
Lowry had done the same a few days shy of a month ago, grabbing birdie at the first in the PGA Championship in upstate New York.
The World No. 27 dropped a shot at the second but soon bounced back sinking a three-footer at the third to get back to one-under.
Lowry bogeyed six and seven but made amends at the second of three pars-5s on the course at the eighth hole, missing the green with his second but producing a superb chip shot from around 50-feet to just eight-foot shy of the hole for a third birdie of his round.
It was then a run of eight pars in succession for Lowry, including a 40-footer for birdie at 10 stopping four-inches shy of the cup, but spoiled by bogeys at 17 and the last.
Power could not have asked for a worst start, finding a fairway bunker, sending his second and third shots into rough ahead of finding the putting surface in four and two-putting from 10-feet for a bogey ‘6’ .
Though the Waterford golfer put that behind him, settling in to par his next six holes and being rewarded in holing a six-footer for birdie at the par-5 eighth. He then moved into the red for a first time, sinking a similar length birdie putt at 10.
Golf’s No. 46 ranked player then dropped shots at the 12th, 14th and the last.
“I’m actually delighted with how I played today,” he said to the media. “Everything was kind of decent. It just didn’t add up properly. So that was a bit disappointing.
Of course, Power was asked his reaction to the pairs of 62s posted by Fowler and Schauffele and remarked: “Yeah, I mean, that’s impressive,” Power said. “Like you could see some birdies to be had but you had got to be hitting it really well and obviously those guys were and making some putts.
Playing alongside Power was Malone’s Matthew McClean, who like Power was in trouble early, doubling his second hole in finding a fairway bunker and then three-putting from some 10-feet.
All credit to McClean as he bounced back with birdies at the third and then drained a 20-footer at the eighth, only to lose it over the inward nine with a 15th hole birdie sandwiched among four bogeys in his opening 73.
McClean is in good company at three-over joined by major winners Adam Scott, Justin Thomas, Martin Kaymer and Jason Day also with scores of 73.
Very first out in what is only the second hosting of a U.S. Open in L.A. was Mexican amateur Omar Morales, who got himself into the championship record books after just nine holes.
Morales, 20, competing in a maiden major is only the fifth amateur over the last 30 years to shoot three strokes under par over his first nine holes of a U.S. Open Championship.
“Yeah, it was awesome”, said a smiling Morales.
“To hit the first tee shot here at the U.S. Open, at a place and a course so close to home, and having people support me, it was awesome.
“I had my family and all my relatives cheering, and I saw them quite a lot. I felt great.”
He eventually finished with a respectable one-over 71, and with former champ Justin Rose struggling to be seven-over coming down the last.
His fellow US Open winner, Rory McIlroy along with reigning US Senior Open champ, Padraig Harrington were each out in the afternoon half of the draw.