Justin Thomas: It’s sad LIV Golf is overshadowing US Open
Rory McIlroy was among the five-man pack sitting one shot back of Canada’s Adam Hadwin after the first round of the US Open while Phil Mickelson struggled a week after making his LIV Golf debut.
Mickelson, playing on his 52nd birthday and three days after facing an onslaught of questions about his involvement with the Saudi-backed LIV series, shot an unsightly eight-over by 78 to sit near the bottom of the 156-player field at The Country Club .
A record six-time US Open runner-up, Mickelson’s self-imposed four-month hiatus following comments he made about the LIV circuit and PGA Tour was evident as soon as he set off in the tougher afternoon conditions.
The long-time fan favorite bogeyed three of his first five holes and then made a double-bogey at the par-three sixth where he four-putted from 12 feet.
Mickelson, who struggled on the greens all day, added another double-bogey at the 12th hole before closing another bogey on a day when his latest bid for the career Grand Slam effectively came to an end.
McIlroy, who came into the year’s third major fresh off a successful title defense in Canada, went out early and shot a three-under-par 67 and maintained a clean scorecard until a bogey at the final hole.
That left Northern Ireland’s McIlroy level with Englishman Callum Tarren, Swede David Lingmerth, American Joel Dahmen and South Africa’s MJ Daffue.
“Even though I’m standing up here slightly frustrated that I bogeyed the last, it’s a great start to the tournament,” said McIlroy, who has gone nearly eight years since winning the last of his four major titles. “Just basically did everything that you need to do at a US Open.”
Leader Hadwin, who has never finished better than 24th in his 19 major championship appearances, carded five birdies over a sizzling six-hole stretch on the front nine to surge up the leaderboard.
The 34-year-old Canadian with one PGA Tour win to his name showed plenty of poise the rest of the way and coolly offset a bogey at the 12th with a birdie at the following hole to regain sole possession atop a jam-packed leaderboard.
Among a pack of seven golfers sitting two shots off the pace was former world number one and 2016 US Open champion Dustin Johnson, who like Mickelson also decided to join the lucrative and controversial LIV series.
Prior to the start of the round, a LIV Golf Twitter post read “Good Luck” and included headshots of the 15 players in the US Open field who have joined its ranks.
Of those golfers, none fared better than the long-hitting Johnson and the worst score of the bunch was the 12-over 82 carded by Australian Jed Morgan.
Defending champion Jon Rahm, who needed two balls to birdie the last hole after two kids stole the one he used for his tee shot, was level with PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and among a group sitting three shots back of Hadwin.
Tom Kershaw17 June 2022 00:52
Tom Kershaw17 June 2022 00:28
Hadwin can’t make the birdie putt but that’s still a fantastic round of 66 from the Canadian and he holds a one-shot lead over five players at three under which, of course, includes Rory McIlroy.
Tom Kershaw17 June 2022 00:26
Hadwin’s drive at the last bounces on a sprinkler head and goes racing miles down the fairway into the semi-rough. It leaves him with only a short pitch in and a fine effort sets up a chance at birdie that would stretch his lead to two.
Tom Kershaw17 June 2022 00:21
A miserable afternoon mercifully comes to an end for Phil Mickelson. He won’t be keen to remember his 52nd birthday. That’s a round of 78.
Tom KershawJune 17, 2022 00:07
Being top of the leaderboard doesn’t seem to be hindering Hadwin, who booms a perfect drive down the 17th.
Over at 18, Lowry plays a fine approach into the green. He’s currently +2 and a birdie there would be a huge momentum boost heading into Friday.
Tom KershawJune 16, 2022 11:59 p.m.
Fitzpatrick pulled his drive at 18 way left and then could only find the front bunker. He can’t get up and down and that’s a bogey to finish, unfortunately. Still, an opening 68 leaves the Englishman in a great position.
Tom Kershaw16 June 2022 23:56
All had been going swimmingly for Rose, but his approach into the par-5 8th hits the false front and rolls all the way back down. He then fluffs his chip and it rolls back to his feet. The next attempt isn’t much better and it leaves a tricky putt just to save by after what looked a great chance to move into a share of the lead.
Tom KershawJune 16, 2022 11:48 p.m.
Speaking of which, Scheffler birdies the last to finish with a 70. That’s a good recovery, having been two over at one stage. He’s already won four events this year, including The Masters, and you wouldn’t bet against him adding a second major to that tally.
Tom KershawJune 16, 2022 11:42 p.m.
Dustin Johnson gets a birdie at 17 too. The 2016 champion has flown a little under the radar today but he’s -2 now and there are a number of major winners lurking just a few shots off the lead.
Tom KershawJune 16, 2022 11:38 p.m.