Phil Mickelson among marquee names struggling early at US Open

England's Ian Poulter and American Matt Kuchar topped the leaderboard at two-under par early in the first round.

Published: 14th June 2018 10:53 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th June 2018 02:17 AM   |  A+A-

Phil Mickelson reacts after missing a putt on the 14th green during the first round of the US Open Golf Championship. | AP

By AFP

SOUTHAMPTON: Phil Mickelson's quest for an elusive US Open title was on the rocks early Thursday at a wind-whipped Shinnecock Hills, where a slew of marquee names were struggling.

England's Ian Poulter and American Matt Kuchar topped the leaderboard at two-under par early in the first round.

But Mickelson and playing partners Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth were finding the going heavy.

Mickelson, a five-time major winner and six-time US Open runner-up, was four-over through nine holes after four bogeys in his first seven.

McIlroy, owner of four major titles, and three-time major champion Spieth were in trouble, too.

Spieth opened with a bogey at the 10th, then added a triple-bogey six at the par-three 11th. Another bogey at the 14th saw him five-over, although a birdie at 18 put him at four-over through nine.

McIlroy opened with a par at 10, then strung together two bogeys and two double bogeys before a birdie at 15, promptly followed by bogeys at 16 and 18 that left him seven-over at the turn.

The winds were expected to blow through the afternoon, with 14-time major champion Tiger Woods due to tee off at 1:47 p.m. (1747 GMT) alongside world number one Dustin Johnson and second-ranked Justin Thomas.

While all eyes will be on Woods, the 42-year-old star making the 10th start of his comeback after spinal fusion surgery can't be considered the most likely man in his group to contend for the title.

That has to be Johnson, who wrested the number one ranking back from Thomas on Sunday with a US PGA Tour victory in Memphis.

Thomas, the reigning PGA Champion, is also a strong bet, but Woods has shown enough good golf in an inevitably erratic comeback to have many wondering if he could take his first victory since 2013 a major.

With gusty winds in the forecast, US Golf Association chief executive Mike Davis said officials opted to change some of the planned hole locations "to make sure they're in areas that can handle this kind of wind."

The USGA has vowed no repeat of the 2004 US Open at Shinnecock, where weekend winds dried the greens to the extent that some were virtually unplayable on Sunday.

Amid pre-tournament concerns that the USGA's zeal to provide golf's "ultimate test" would again see the course teeter into unfairness, England's world number three Justin Rose said he didn't mind seeing a course "on the edge".

"I think, when everything's in balance, it's kind of boring," Rose said. "I think in life, the closer you get to the edges, that's where the excitement is."

Rose, one of a handful of players who can overtake Johnson atop the world rankings this week, was at even par through 12 holes.

Stay up to date on all the latest Sport news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp