BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) — Jon Rahm began his U.S. Open title defense with a 1-under 69, a solid score Thursday at the Country Club that ended with a par and a birdie.
His last two holes had a bit more excitement than the numbers alone can reveal.
Rahm fired his driver on the par-4 17th hole and told his caddie, Adam Hayes, “This could be out of bounds.” There is no OB, but the ball could have been lost or unplayable, and the stroke and distance penalty the same.
The caddy scores another ball and hands it to him. The second was more of a hook. Hayes hit another ball.
At that point, Rahm would have struck his fifth shot. But he saw a marshal finally signal the ball was safe. Rahm’s first ball was in play, he hit the corner from rough 12 feet and missed the birdie putt.
“I know full well how lucky I was on that hole, and I tried to take advantage of it to birdie, but I’m going to take the 4 and run any day of the week,” Rahm said.
The next hole was even more entertaining. He hit another hook, this one disappearing over the fence towards the television enclosure. Observers found the ball under the tent, then it disappeared. It turns out that two children grabbed him and they left.
“I’m pretty sure I know who it was. I recognized the two kids running in the opposite direction with a smile on their face,” he said. “I’m 100% sure I saw the two kids who stole it.”
He was just happy the ball was seen in the first place. Rahm was relieved of the TV tent and the good fortune kept coming when he took his gout. The rough wasn’t very thick and Rahm only had 125 yards to cover the bunker in front of the green.
“I don’t think they expected anyone to hit him there or be there, so I was able to drop him in a bit of a back area, and I wasn’t in danger of carrying the bunker,” he said. .
It ended with a 12-foot birdie putt and a fist pump. Quite the finish.
“If it doesn’t scream you, it’s the Open,” then nothing will, he said. “Sometimes you play good golf and you can’t get things done and sometimes you get a break.”
When Justin Rose lined up his 48-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, he had a pretty good idea of how to attack it.
It was virtually the same putt Justin Leonard made to secure victory for the United States in the 1999 Ryder Cup at the Country Club. Rose punched the ball into the hole, threw her hands up and did a little dance, mimicking – but not quite to the exuberance of – Leonard’s celebration.
The crowd laughed and his playing partner, Bryson DeChambeau, came over to punch him.
“It was 100% Justin Leonard vibe,” said Rose, who shot a 2-under 68 to finish the first round two shots behind leader Adam Hadwin. “I was reading the putt, and I was, like, ‘That’s the putt that Justin Leonard had.’ I hit him, and… he came in with the speed of Justin Leonard.
Rose started on the 10th tee and began his bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie round – going just one par in all on the back nine of the course. He was even even when he got to the hole that made history for Francis Ouimet at the 1913 US Open and again in 1999 for Leonard against the Europeans.
“I was going to run a little longer like him,” said Rose, who was a 19-year-old who had just turned pro in England when the Europeans took a 10-6 lead on the final day to lose the Cup. in what is now called the “Battle of Brookline”. “It’s a little nod to Justin. But, yeah, I’m just trying to kick European memories out there.
MJ Daffue could never have imagined the year would turn out like this, let alone a 67 in the first round of the US Open, his first major.
Not after starting the year sick with the coronavirus in January.
The South African was the seventh-to-last player to take part in the first Korn Ferry Tour event in the Bahamas. He finished tied for 15th. A month later, he had back-to-back top 10s. And when he broke into the top 3, he had earned enough points for the South African to earn a PGA Tour card next season.
And then it got even better.
Daffue (pronounced “Duffy”) shared medal honors during US Open qualifying in Springfield, Ohio. On Thursday, he had six birdies at the Country Club.
“I think now I’ve finally this week probably started to feel the freedom,” he said. “I got my card next year, and maybe I can do a few more things than I ever could.”
It’s been a long road to the PGA Tour, even the US Open, but he thinks hard times brought him here. The biggest lessons come from all the Monday qualifying he can go through for the tour events.
“It really taught me to birdie a lot,” he said. “I translated that into my game. I would say I got really good scores for a while, and they told me to keep my head down and keep shooting good scores, and eventually it is quite good.
It was certainly Thursday at the Open.
Jordan Spieth had a stomach ache on Wednesday and cut his last day of practice short. He made it to the tee on Thursday and got more excitement inside the ropes than he needed.
Spieth had two pars, three birdies and four bogeys on the front nine. He took a bogey at No. 10, and when he birdied on the 17th, he returned that shot on the closing hole for 72.
He declined interview requests, saying he was tired.
Patrick Cantlay also had a limited practice recovering from illness. He also shot 72.
THE INS AND OUTS
Abraham Ancer withdrew Thursday morning due to illness, making him the only player to forfeit during the week. He was replaced by Patton Kizzire.
Next up as an alternate was Rickie Fowler, who never made the US Open. Fowler has always drawn a host of television cameras, mostly by offering to speak to a Lee Elder Foundation scholarship group between the morning and afternoon waves.
Fowler had played in 10 consecutive US Opens. He has now missed each of the last two years.
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