BROOKLINE, Massachusetts (AP) — The US Open has been wide open for at least one day.
Five of the top six on the leaderboard made it to The Country Club circuit through qualifying. The other was four-time top winner Rory McIlroy, who hit and tossed his clubs during the round but also threw enough shots with them to take just one stroke off the lead.
“It’s been eight years since I won a major,” McIlroy said after batting 3’s under 67 to end the day in a five-way tie for second place to Adam Hadwin. “And I just want to get one again.”
The 34-year-old Canadian, who had earned a seat in Brooklyn just eight days earlier, Hadwin had five birds in the top nine and then played defense with an even par and finished with 66. McIlroy tied for second with Callum Tarren, David. Lingmert, Joel Damen and M.J. Duffy.
It’s been a big sports day in Boston, with FIFA announcing Thursday afternoon that the area will host 2026 World Cup games and the Red Sox having a matinee against Oakland. (A won 4-3).
The Celtics lost Game 6 of the NBA Finals 103–90 to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night, and McIlroy was among those heading to the TD Garden game.
McIlroy was the most vocal defenseman on the PGA Tour against the new LIV Golf circuit, which was throwing Saudi money around to attract high-profile defectors. But the best thing he can do for the old track is to keep winning.
A few days after winning the RBC Open, McIlroy made multiple shots in a row to become the first player to hit the 4 under mark. He missed the ninth green – his 18th hole – and stalled on his only ghost round.
“Even though I’m standing here a little upset that I made a mistake last, this is a great start to the tournament,” he said. “The fields in this tournament are very good and I think you can see that in some of the reactions.”
McIlroy made two angry strikes on the number 5 sand after propelling his ball from a terrible position on the edge of one bunker straight into the next trap. But he rose and fell from the sand, making a 13-foot throw to keep the face value.
At number 9, he threw his stick away in disgust during a scarecrow that kept him out of the lead.
The emotion was to “sometimes almost remind yourself how much it means to you,” he said.
In his attempt to win the Major for the third year in a row, Collin Morikawa turned 3 short but didn’t make another birdie. On #18, par 4, he had to miss the bunker, fall into a trap, and then climb up and down from there to finish the scarecrow 1 short.
“I never expected it to get easier,” he said. “We are at the US Open. We are in a major championship. … I think it will only get harder.”
Defensive US Open champion John Rahm also saved 69 after running wide left on the final two holes. He made a second throw at No. 17 in case the ball could not be found and knocked it off course before the marshal found his original ball.
He saved steam.
“I know full well how lucky I was on that (17th) hole and I tried to take advantage of it to make a birdie,” he said. “But I’ll take 4 and run any day of the week.”
On the 18th Ram climbed over the fence towards the TV complex and two children ran away with the ball. He took his fall and left himself a 12-foot birdie kick to finish with 69.
“If it doesn’t scream to you, it’s Open,” he said, “then nothing will happen. “Sometimes you’re good at golf and you can’t make it, and other times you get a break.”
Dustin Johnson bid for early bragging rights among 14 players signed to Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf.
That is, if they show off anything other than nine-figure checks, some of them are reportedly cashing out.
Johnson hit 68 and finished seventh after 18 holes in a seven-man scoring. James Piot was one stroke behind, Patrick Reid was among the three golfers to score an even 70, and Bryson DeChambeau was 1 over.
The Open was not so kind to the rest of the LIV XIV, including six-time Grand Champion Phil Mickelson, who had 8 shots from 78, and 2010 British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, who scored 77.
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