Rickie Fowler leads US Open on day of highs and lows

Kristopher Nichols
June 17, 2017

Erin Hills made its debut as a U.S. Open course Thursday with a most gracious welcome for Rickie Fowler, who matched the record to par in the opening round with a 7-under 65 on the longest course in major championship history. He pushed his score to 5 under, 2 strokes off Rickie Fowler's absurd pace, before finally finding the fescue on his 16th hole of the day.

After all, at the end of the day we're still talking about the U.S. Open.

Health officials said evidence of E. coli bacteria was found at a hydration station at the Erin Hills golf course, site of the U.S. Open in Erin, Wisconsin.

That the USGA's setup czars laid down their arms Thursday was unsurprising.

"I take it as a compliment", he said.

Coverage of the second round at Erin Hills at 8 a.m. ET on the Golf Channel, with live coverage of the 2017 U.S. Open's second round starting at 11 a.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

McIlroy won the US Open with a record 16-under-par total in 2011, but was a combined 50 over par for his seven other appearances before this week and missed the cut at Oakmont past year following rounds of 77 and 71.

Fowler wasn't the only player to go super-low.

Fowler enters today's second round with a one-shot lead over Paul Casey and Xander Schauffele. In an eclectic group at five under are 27-year-old bomber Brooks Koepka; pint-sized left-hander Brian Harman, who picked up his second Tour win at the Wells Fargo last month; and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood. But Reed wasn't too shabby either, checking in with a 4-under 68.

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Fowler's seven birdies were from no more than 12 feet, including three in a row around the turn.

McIlroy made an encouraging start as he followed an opening par with a 30-foot putt for eagle at the second after driving the green, but a blocked approach from the middle fairway at the next led to a bogey and signalled the start of a long and hard day. He did sneak in four birdies on the day, but five bogeys and two astonishing triples took him far out of contention.

Day hit nine fairways, but that wasn't very good given the 60-yard width of Erin Hills' fairways. "Hey, we gotta get to the tee!" he barked.

Most freakish about this day was that as many amateurs broke par as top 10 players in the world - two apiece. Dustin Johnson, who arrived late to the property this week off the birth of his child, turned in a 75, while the pairing of Rory McIlroy and Jason Day produced a combined score of 13-over par. "You've got 156 of the best players in the world here, if we can't hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home".

McIlroy hit only 5 of 14 fairways.

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"You can not play this golf course if you're not in position off the tee, and I wasn't in position", McIlroy said.

American Jamie Lovemark, who shot a three-under 69 after watching a blimp crash to the ground. I got the shakes. I'm not sure what's going to happen at the ninth. "It was a disgusting sight". Over the past five years, nobody has been a stronger player in the U.S. Open.

"That's definitely been something that's been nice to have on days where you're not exactly on and just understanding and freeing yourself up because you know if you might miss something, okay, I'll just get it up-and-down".

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