Tales of past U.S. Opens contested at Winged Foot Golf Club are legendary for the teeth that this classic course has and often exercises on its competitors, but the 2020 version was a softer and tamer version that ended with 21 golfers under par led by Justin Thomas with a five-under 65.
“65 is fun no matter where you play, especially at Winged Foot,” Thomas said. “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.”
Patrick Reed, whose round included an ace on the par-3 seventh hole, is joined by Thomas Pieters and Matthew Wolff at 4-under one shot shy of Thomas’ lead.
“It would have been nuts. Up here in New York, the fans are amazing. You go ahead and you hole out from the fairway, you make a hole-in-one, the fans will just go crazy,” Reed said on having no fans around for the hole-in-one. “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.
2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy fired an opening round 67 and is tied with Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen at 3-under and two shots behind Thomas.
“Hopefully I can keep that going over the next three days, and that’s what you need to do around here, just keep it in the short stuff, and then the greens are still receptive enough where you can give yourself some chances,” McIlroy said. “I took a couple of my chances today. It was one of those rounds I felt like could have been a little lower than it was, but at the same time 67 is a really good start.”
Oosthuizen surpassed four-time champion Jack Nicklaus for the most rounds of 67 or lower in U.S. Open history (8) with his 67.
Tiger Woods opened with a 73 that included a double bogey on No. 18.
“It was a bit of ebb and flow to the round today,” Woods said. “I did not finish off the round like I needed to. I made a bunch of putts in the middle part of the round. It seemed like most of my drives on the front nine landed in the fairway and ended up in bad spots, and I tried to stay as patient as possible, and unfortunately just did not finish off my round the way I needed to.”
Woods was joined by past U.S. Open champions Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth at 3-over.
Defending champion Gary Woodland opened with a 74.
Reigning PGA champion Collin Morikawa posted a 76.
Six-time U.S. Open runner-up Phil Mickelson is playing in his first U.S. Open since turning 50 and he had a disappointing first round with an opening 79.
“I drove it poorly and I putted poorly,” Mickelson said “The course couldn’t be set up any better. It’s a spectacular golf course, great design, awesome setup, and I thought it was a good opportunity to score low today. I just played terrible.”