LOS ANGELES • If US Opens are occasions in which people gather to witness misery, then a US Open did not begin on Thursday, even though the 119th one did officially.
The day featured a profound lack of disappointment and the mood felt like that otter who got airtime on the Fox broadcast, rolling and lolling in the water in rarefied contentment.
Rude weather stayed elsewhere. Placidity ruled. A Pebble Beach course that allowed zero guys in the 60s in the first rounds of 1972 and 1982, six in 1992, 10 in 2000 and three in 2010 allowed a massive 27 on Thursday.
At the course whose five previous US Opens had seen only one 65 and six 66s, Justin Rose led a first-round scoring onslaught ahead of four others with 66s, all in one day.
But the fourth-ranked Englishman was not getting carried away with his record-equalling 65.
"I wouldn't say it's exhilarating, because I feel like my mindset is I am in a 72-hole tournament," said Rose, who birdied the last three holes to match the lowest US Open round ever shot at Pebble Beach - first achieved by Tiger Woods on his way to a 15-stroke win in 2000.
1ST ROUND (selected, USA unless stated)
65 Justin Rose (Eng)
66 Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa), Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Aaron Wise
67 Scott Piercy , Nate Lashley
68 Francesco Molinari (Ita), Gary Woodland, Rory McIlroy (Nir)
69 Marc Leishman (Aus), Jon Rahm (Esp), Sergio Garcia (Esp), Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn), Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar
70 Jason Day (Aus), Adam Scott (Aus), An Byeong-hun (Kor), Tiger Woods, Paul Casey (Eng)
71 Li Haotong (Chn), Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Tommy Fleetwood (Eng)
72 Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth
73 Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas
74 Tony Finau
75 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)
"This is just a very small step towards (an) outcome. So you don't feel that buzz that you would on a Sunday, but you can't help but look around over your shoulder, and think damn, this is Pebble Beach. Shot 65 and you're in the US Open.
"Whatever transpires the rest of the week, it was a cool moment."
Rose has already won on one scenic California coastal course this year, with his victory in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
And he has put himself in position to challenge for a second US Open title, to go with his 2013 triumph at Merion.
He was four under through the first seven holes, aided by an eagle at the par-five sixth - which allowed eight of 17 eagles on Thursday. His only bogey of the day at the eighth was followed by seven pars before he streaked to the finish line.
"I was trying to stay patient with myself mentally," Rose added.
"And then I got rewarded with a hot finish, birdying the last three. I took a good round to a great round."
Rose played alongside Jordan Spieth (72) and 15-time Major champion Woods, who did not join the birdie bonanza with a 70.
"It's typical Pebble Beach, where the first seven holes you can get it going and then after that, you're kind of fighting and hanging on," said the 43-year-old American, who parred his last 11 holes.
"I had it going early and had to fight off through the middle part and hung in there with pars."
Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Aaron Wise and South African Louis Oosthuizen all carded 66s.
Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy's 68 was his best start at a US Open since the 65 when he won at Bethesda in 2011.
In 17 first rounds since he last won a Major - the US PGA Championship in 2014 - he had broken 70 only once.
The Northern Irishman's display, coupled with his spellbinding victory at the Canadian Open last weekend, suggest it would be wise to keep an eye on him.
The three occasions when he scored 68 or better to start a Major, he walked away with the trophy.
"It's important for everybody but especially for me, trying to get my way back to winning these big events," McIlroy said.
Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka, meanwhile, turned in a scrappy effort to stay in contention with a 69.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST, THE GUARDIAN
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