By Tim Liotta
Record-Setting First Round
The 123rd U.S. Open Golf Championship broke out into a race to 62 as Rickie Fowler posted the championship's record score less than 30 minutes prior to being matched by Xander Schauffele in Thursday's opening round. Fowler chaulked up 10 birdies to go with a pair of bogeys, while Schauffele posted eight birdies without a hole played over par, setting the lead at 8-under-par on the first day of this year's third major championship being played over the North Course at the Los Angeles Country Club. "It was a great day," said Fowler, playing in his first U.S. Open since 2020. "Got off to a nice start, making three on 10. I never really thought about a score or necessarily what I was trying to do out there." The previous U.S. Open record score of 63 had been posted six times, first by Johnny Miller in 1973 and most recently in 2018 by Tommy Fleetwood. The only time 62 had been posted at a major championship came in 2017 when Branden Grace of South Africa posted the score in the third round of the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale Golf Club. "I knew there were birdies to be made out here, but you have to drive it well and get the ball in position first," said Fowler. "We did that, and from there managed our way around really well." Fowler, off the 10th hole at 8:02am PDT, and Schauffele, off the same tee 22 minutes later, finished five shots better than any of the other 78 players in the 16 threesomes making up Thursday's morning wave. And he became a target most of the day for Schauffele, who has five top-10 finishes in his first six U.S. Opens. "Rick played two groups in front of me, I guess," Schauffele said. "I was playing some good golf. It's Thursday, and you're just trying to position yourself, but sometimes when you see someone up there you kind of are like, 'Alright, well, I guess it's out there.' "I kept hitting good shots, and having good looks for birdie. I just kept looking up at the board after making birdie, and I was still behind so I just kept chumming along." A year ago, Fowler ranked 173rd in the world, and has played his way into this championship, qualifying by reaching No. 45 in the world with six top-10s this season on the PGA Tour. He's spent most of this week working to recapture that form. "The first few days this week I wasn't feeling very comfortable with my swing, and wasn't making very many putts or hitting very good few putts," Fowler said. "So I continued to get working on the course as well as on the practice area and finally a couple of things clicked a bit yesterday. And then it was more go out, trust it, and let things happen." Some big names in the afternoon wave made runs at Fowler and Schauffele, but none of them could draw even with the two leaders. Two-time major champion Dustin Johnson reached his final hole, the ninth, at 7-under, but flew his tee shot into a trap some 15 yards beyond the green, saw his par putt lip out, and had to settle for a bogey to finish tied for second with Wyndham Clarke at 6-under par. Four-time major champ Rory McIlroy reached 5-under after 8 holes, 6-under with a birdie on 17th, only to bogey his final hole. He was tied for fifth with Brian Harman at 5-under. The two waves switch tomorrow, with Thursday's afternoon wave teeing off first thing in the morning, and Thursday's morning wave playing round two in the afternoon.