Fowler, Schauffele break US Open record with 62s at Los Angeles Country Club

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Rickie Fowler can always say he was the first to shoot 62 in the U.S. Open.

But only by about 15 minutes.

Xander Schauffele soon matched him on the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club with an 8-under 62 of his own, making Thursday a most extraordinary day for scoring in the major known as the toughest test in golf.

Tough meant keeping track of all the birdies in the lowest opening round in US Open history.

“It’s not really what you expect to play a US Open,” Schauffele said. “But monkey see, monkey do. I was just chasing Rickie up the leaderboard. Glad he was just ahead of me.”

Those who came behind them in the afternoon were on the verge of joining them. Dustin Johnson hit all 13 fairways — a scary thought for the rest of the field — and had a shot at 62 until his 5-iron on the par-3 ninth went into a bunker next to the 18th. green.

That led to his only bogey and a somewhat disappointing 64 – rare to say in a US Open – to join Wyndham Clark.

Rory McIlroy went out in 30 – his best nine-hole start at any major – and had to settle for a 65. He whizzed a delicate flop from the thick green collar around the 18th and escaped with a bogey to join Brian Harman , who played his first 10 holes in 6 under but went 1 over from there.

Johnson found his way into the record books. He tied Tiger Woods for most rounds of 65 or lower in majors (10).

“This is not your typical US Open mindset of ‘I’m just playing for par.’ You’ve got to make some birdies to stay in line with those guys,” Harris English said after a ho-hum 67.

It all started with Fowler, whose remarkable round included two bogeys when he missed the green on the 254-yard 11th and missed the fairway on the 17th on his front nine. Starting with a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th, he ran off with four straight birdies. The streak ended at the par-3 fourth when he came up 2 inches from a long bunker shot.

He set the record with a two-putt from just under 60 feet on the par-5 ninth. That was also when he noticed the leaderboard.

“I knew where I was,” Fowler said. “I would say that from the middle of the round until the ninth green, our last hole, I didn’t really know or see any scores. And then I saw that Xander was 7 (under) at the time and I’m not sure if he even knew where I was or anything.

“But it was kind of cool if he did that to see that he kind of locked in and we picked up a little bit of speed.”

Schauffele was two groups behind and never too far away. He missed a birdie chance at the short par-4 sixth by trying to drive the green, but then picked up a rare birdie on the 258-yard seventh hole with what he called a “tomahawk 4-iron” to 5 feet.

“That’s pretty much all I have in my body,” Schauffele said.

He got up-and-down from just under the green on the par-5 eighth and then had a birdie chance from just inside 30 feet that would have topped Fowler and sent him into the major championship record book alone. He let it be short and settled for a 62.

They now share the major championship record with Branden Grace, who had a 62 in the third round at Royal Birkdale in the 2017 British Open.

Their record day came on the 50th anniversary of Johnny Miller posting the first 63 in US Open history. Since then, five players have shot 63 in a US Open, most recently Tommy Fleetwood in 2018 at Shinnecock Hills.

Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf each shot 63 in the opening round at Baltusrol in the 1980 US Open, which Nicklaus won.

Conditions were good for scoring – cloudy, mild with almost no wind. Condensation in the morning felt like a fog and it kept the greens receptive.

Still, the second-best score from the morning wave was a 3-under 67 by a group that included Scottie Scheffler and Bryson DeChambeau. Five more players shot 67 in the afternoon.

The low score was sure to raise questions about LACC, a century-old club hosting a major championship for the first time. Schauffele was not interested in that.

“My job is just to play. I try not to speculate too much,” he said. “I’ll take what the course can give me, and today it gave me a low.”

Nor had he expected this to continue. The USGA’s idea of ​​a good test is something around par, and there wasn’t much that could be done against increasing talent depth in golf and pristine weather conditions.

“It’s just Thursday. It’s literally just the first day of a tournament. It’s a good start,” Schauffele said. “You just have to wait until this spot is set. It will be ugly.”

It already proved to be just that for some players. Justin Rose, who won at Pebble Beach in February and is back in good form, opened with a 76. Jordan Spieth had a 72. PGA champion Brooks Koepka shot a 71.

Masters champion Jon Rahm, playing alongside Schauffele, opened with a 69. That’s typically a solid start at the US Open. This left him with seven shots.

Schauffele tends to play his best in the US Open – five top 10s in his six appearances – and he has been among the elite on the PGA Tour for the last several years, even without winning a major.

Fowler is different. He once finished in the top five at all four majors in 2014. But a recent slump made just getting in them a challenge. He was the first alternate last year in Brookline and had to go home without hitting a shot.

But he went back to coach Butch Harmon in September and has played well enough to get back into the top 50 in the world after being in danger of falling out of the top 200 a year ago.

And there he was at a major, putting his name in the record books for all the right reasons.

“It’s definitely been long and hard — a lot longer to be in that situation than you’d ever want,” Fowler said. “But it makes it so worth it to have gone through it and be back where we are now.”


AP Golf: and

Leave a Comment