Ewen Murray looks back at an impressive opening round for Rickie Fowler at the US Open and analyses the struggles of Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson at Erin Hills.
I was pleasantly surprised by the scoring at Erin Hills. Good play was rewarded, just like you would want in any major championship, while bad play was severely punished.
We’ve seen quite a bit of diversity as far as the scoring is concerned, with Rickie Fowler at the top on seven under and some of the world’s top players on 76 and more.
The conditions were 100 per cent and as good as they could be, but you have to still go out and find the fairways which Fowler did. He drove the ball in the right places and was a joy to watch, so I would be very surprised come Sunday if he’s not in the mix.
Rory McIlroy usually draws the ball with full control, which is not easy to do. Today I thought his set up for a fade but with a draw swing, which is why he saw a lot of the left of the course.
There’s no way you can play Erin Hills from anywhere else but the fairways and McIlroy said at the start of the week they’re wide enough and if you couldn’t find them then you shouldn’t be here.
Maybe he shouldn’t have said that and there was pressure on him right away, and now he’s probably going to have to come back with something like a 67.
That’s not going to be easy for him to do in his sixth tournament of the year. As good as McIlroy is, that’s not a lot of tournament golf and I think that showed today.
I thought Dustin Johnson would be able to get around here with a 3-wood, but he spent a lot of time in the hay. It goes to show that even the best players have bad days, but I expect Johnson to battle back tomorrow.
Friday’s scoring will be dependent on how the USGA decide to set up Erin Hills, but it certainly won’t be as easy as it was today.
I think 12 under will still be able to win on Sunday, despite the fact we’re at seven under after the opening day. It will get more difficult and I’m sure the USGA will have something in store over the weekend to get the scoring back to where they want it!