2015 US OPEN

Stenson & Johnson keep rivals at bay

Tiger Woods (far left), having to settle for a bogey five on the fourth hole on Thursday. But he tried to make light of the situation by saying that his 80 score was still better than the 81 achieved by fellow American Rickie Fowler.
Tiger Woods (far left), having to settle for a bogey five on the fourth hole on Thursday. But he tried to make light of the situation by saying that his 80 score was still better than the 81 achieved by fellow American Rickie Fowler.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

They both shoot 65 to lead after first round, Woods struggles to post 80

UNIVERSITY PLACE (Washington) - Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson set the first-round pace at the US Open on Thursday on a day of remarkable highs and lows as Tiger Woods shot an 80, his fourth-worst score as a professional.

American Johnson and Swede Stenson fired matching five-under 65s at Chambers Bay that made a mockery of fears that the 7,526-yard monster links-style course south of Seattle would be impossible to tame.

Then again, only 25 of the 156 players in the field shot under par. Still, Johnson had a chance to equal the record-low, first-round score at the US Open with a birdie at the par-three last but hit his tee shot into a tough bunker and failed to get up and down.

  • Leader board

  • US Open, 1st rd (USA unless noted)

    65 Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson (Swe)

    66 Patrick Reed

    67 Matt Kuchar, Ben Martin, Brian Campbell

    68 Cody Gribble, Jason Dufner, Jordan Spieth, Joost Luiten (Ned), Francesco Molinari (Ita), Marc Warren (Sco), Jason Day (Aus)

    69 Geoff Ogilvy (Aus), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Esp), Branden Grace (Rsa), Colin Montgomerie (Sco), Shane Lowry (Irl), Phil Mickelson, Kevin Chappell, Brian Harman, Brandt Snedeker, Charlie Beljan, Tony Finau, Ollie Schniederjans

    Selected

    70 Bubba Watson, Angel Cabrera (Arg), Sergio Garcia (Esp), Adam Scott (Aus)

    71 Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Jim Furyk

    72 Rory McIlroy (Nir), Shiv Kapur (Ind), Ernie Els (Rsa)

    73 Charl Schwartzel (Rsa), Liang Wenchong (Chn)

    74 Ryo Ishikawa (Jpn)

    77 Retief Goosen (Rsa), Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa)

    80 Tiger Woods

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"I just made a bad swing on nine and that was the only bad swing I made all day," he said after piling up six birdies and a lone bogey.

Stenson joined Johnson at the top after draining a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a homeward nine of four-under 31.

"It was a good day," said the Swedish world No. 6, who birdied four of his last five holes. "I was striking it nicely which led to a lot of birdie opportunities for me.

"I felt like I was really keeping my patience and a level head out there. I hit some beautiful putts and managed to slip a few in there."

Both Johnson and Stenson are seeking a first Major title.

They were one stroke ahead of American Patrick Reed while Americans Matt Kuchar, Ben Martin and amateur Brian Campbell trailed by two.

Another American, Phil Mickelson, who is yearning to complete a career Grand Slam of the four Majors by winning his first US Open, was "very pleased" after a round of 69 that included four birdies and three bogeys.

"I hit a lot of good shots today," the runner-up at the US Open a record six times said.

"The first round was the round I was going to be most nervous at, getting started. You don't want to have to fight to come back all the time. You want to get off to a solid start around par."

It was an average morning for world No. 1 Rory McIlroy.

Seeking his fifth Major victory, he birdied his second hole but never got into top gear as he struggled on the greens to return a 72.

"I need to find a rhythm in my stroke over the next three days, work a bit on the putting green," said the Northern Irishman.

  • Woods' woes in numbers

  • 80 Tiger Woods shot his highest-ever round at the US Open and second worst at a Major on Thursday.

    10 His 10-over-par performance ties his worst score-to-par in a Major as a professional. At the storm-hit British Open at Muirfield in 2002, he carded a 10-over 81 in the third round.

    3 This is his third score in the 80s in his last 15 rounds. Prior to that, he had just one in his previous 1,107 rounds.

    6 The number of fairways Woods found. That did not include the 13th fairway even though it was 100 yards wide.

    16th The former world No. 1 got his first birdie at the third last hole. It was his only one.

    2 Only Rickie Fowler (81) and Rich Berberian (83) fared worse than Woods.

Masters champion Jordan Spieth, who played in the more difficult conditions of the afternoon as the course firmed up, struggled but three straight birdies from the 11th spurred him on to a 68.

Woods, who won the most recent of his 14 Major titles at the 2008 US Open, endured a nightmare at Chambers Bay.

Wayward off the tee, the former world No. 1 toiled away in bunkers and thick fescue rough before ending his round with a bogey at the par-five 18th where he cold-topped a three-wood from the middle of the fairway.

Woods was even outscored by 15-year-old amateur Cole Hammer - the third-youngest player in US Open history - who beat him by three strokes with a 77.

The only other players to finish worse than Woods were Rickie Fowler (81) and Rich Berberian (83).

"The bright side is at least I kicked Rickie's butt today," said Woods, trying to find some humour in the situation.

He insisted he fought through it as best as he could but just came up empty.

"I couldn't grind out any harder than that. Unfortunately, it was a high number today," he said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

US Open: Day 3

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2015, with the headline 'STENSON & JOHNSON KEEP RIVALS AT BAY'. Print Edition | Subscribe