Third-ranked Justin Thomas was No. 1 in the first round of the 120th U.S. Open.
Thomas, whose only major title came in the 2017 PGA Championship, carded a 5-under-par 65 to take a one-stroke lead over 10th-ranked Patrick Reed, Matthew Wolff of Simi Valley and Thomas Pieters of Belgium on the famed West Course at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaronek, N.Y.
The tournament is being played without spectators, as all PGA Tour events have been since the restart in June after the shutdown caused by Coronavirus pandemic.
“Yeah, 65 is fun no matter where you play, especially at Winged Foot,” Thomas said after sinking a 20-foot birdie putt on the last hole to set a record for the lowest score in the six U.S. Opens played at Winged Foot. I was in a really good frame of mind, and I was focused. I just was sticking to my routine and playing every shot, as opposed to getting ahead of myself.
“It’s one of those rounds where … next thing you know, you make the putt on 18, you’re done for the day. The greens are very soft. I thought they’d be a little firmer, but I also understood that they need to err on this side if they can get them how they want this weekend. … It’s still Winged Foot. You’ve still got to hit the shots.
“ … It’s one of the best rounds I’ve played in a while, tee to green.”
The lack of fans was never more evident than when Reed’s one-bounce hole-in-one with a 9-iron on the seventh hole to highlight his 66 was met with almost complete silence.
A volunteer near the green finally let him know the ball was in the hole.
“It would have been nuts (with fans),” said Reed, whose lone major title came in the 2018 Masters. “Up here in New York, the fans are amazing. It was unfortunate the fans weren’t here because that would have been an awesome experience. But at the same time, an ace is an ace. I’ll take it either way.
“Of course I was excited about it, but really I knew from that point that, ‘Hey, you need to settle out, get ready for the next hole.’ Around here at Winged Foot, every golf shot you have to pay attention to because you hit one poor golf shot, a lot of things can happen out here.”
Said Pieters, who has never won a major and finished off his 66 with a birdie on the ninth hole: “Surprisingly, you could get your approach shots to stop on the greens, and even get spin on some of them. I expect it to get a lot more difficult, so you have to take advantage of it now.”
Added the 21-year-old Wolff, who won the 1999 3M Open and joined the tie for second at 66 late in the day after he made three straight birdies early on the back nine: “It was great, a lot of fun out there. I couldn’t have asked for a better opening day, but I think it’s going to be tougher tomorrow, and I can’t wait.”
Fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, the 2011 U.S. Open champion and a four-time major winner, shot 67 and is tied for fifth with seventh-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, Lee Westwood of England, 2010 British Open champ Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, Brendon Todd, Jason Kokrak, Harris English, Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain and Joaquin Niemann of Chile.
Second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain totaled 69 and is in a tie for 14th that includes ninth-ranked Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis, while sixth-ranked Webb Simpson is tied for 32nd at 71.
Three-time U.S. Open winner Tiger Woods, who has won 15 majors, finished at 73 and is in a tie for 71st that includes top-ranked Dustin Johnson, while defending champion Gary Woodland is tied for 92nd at 74, and fifth-ranked Colin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, the PGA champion, totaled 76 and is in a tie for 120th that includes reigning British Open champion Shane Lowry of Ireland.
Phil Mickelson, who has finished second six times in the U.S. Open and can complete the Career Grand Slam by winning it, struggled to a 79 as is 142nd—beating only two players in the field.
For complete results, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html