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The stage was set, daggers were drawn and the first day saw some of the biggest names in the golfing terrain making their strong presence felt at the US Open 2022 at the Country Club. It began early Thursday with Rory McIlroy vaulting to the top of the leaderboard with a nearly flawless 3-under 67 effort. Dropping a shot late in his round, McIlroy would later be matched by by Joel Dahmen, MJ Daffue and a pair of European counterparts at 3 under.
"You'd take 67 around this golf course any day," said McIlroy. "Even though I'm standing up here slightly frustrated that I bogeyed the last, it's a great start to the tournament. I felt like I did most things well today. I certainly putted well, and I hit the ball in the right spots, and I hit a lot of greens, gave myself plenty of chances. Just basically did everything that you need to do at a U.S. Open."
Here is the link to the full leaderboard: https://www.usopen.com/scoring.html
However, that entire group would be surpassed by Adam Hadwin, who turned in the round of the day with a 4-under 66 in the afternoon. The Canadian is in the midst of a sneaky strong season, which at one point included three consecutive top-10 finishes but has yet to taste contention in a major championship.
Hadwin has his work cut out for him the rest of the way as suitable chasers are lining up at the door. Defending champion Jon Rahm, PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and two-time major title-holder Collin Morikawa are all only three strokes back at 1 under, and they will look to ascend up the leaderboard in Friday's second round.
1. Adam Hadwin (-4): The Canadian made his way into this week's field when Paul Casey withdrew due to injury. Gaining entry as an alternate in sectional qualifying, Hadwin hardly looked like one on Thursday as all facets of his game were in sync. Leading the field in strokes gained tee to green, there is still room for improvement as the 34-year-old ranked 60th in strokes gained putting in Round 1. That should draw fear into the eyes of his chasers, but still, it is not as if he has been in this position often as his career best finish in a major championship is T24 at the 2018 Masters. He has enjoyed a nice 2022 season which included a T9 at the Players Championship, but the next three days will be a whole different animal.
T2. Rory McIlroy, Joel Dahmen, Callum Tarren, M.J. Daffue and David Lingmerth (-3): Ever since his final round at the 2022 Masters, McIlroy, the four-time major champion, has been rolling. He continued his fine play Thursday at The Country Club, but it was not without some head scratching moments. Posting more than four strokes gained putting, the Northern Irishman put together the third best performance with the flat stick in hand of his PGA Tour career. Strong off the tee and quite proficient with his irons, it was around the green where he fell short.
Kyle Porter called McIlroy's around the green game "underrated," and I tend to agree as he ranks fourth in said category on the year and ahead of names like Jordan Spieth, Cameron Smith and Patrick Reed, yet he is rarely mentioned in the same breath. He will need this area of the bag to rebound as he has had some trouble backing up one great round with another.
T7. Matt Fitzpatrick, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose and four others (-2): Nine years later and the 2013 U.S. Amateur did not miss a beat as Fitzpatrick looked extremely at ease during his first round at The Country Club. Ranking 10th in strokes gained tee to green, the Englishman continued to thrive off the tee and was able to hide an extremely loose iron performance thanks to a strong short game effort. He has been knocking on the door for what seems like an eternity and on paper the 2022 version of Fitzpatrick is different. Having been in the final pairing at the 2022 PGA Championship, it is possible the heartache from Southern Hills leads to jubilation in Brookline.
PHIL’s NOT SO HAPPENING BIRTHDAY
Phil Mickelson celebrated his 52nd birthday on Thursday, but the five-time major champion struggled on the greens in shooting a 78.
SOME INTERESTING UPDATES OF DAY 1:
USGA | June 20, 2022
A peek into the leaderboard and you will find all stars stacked up. Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy are all in contention at The Country Club. Read More
PGA | June 16, 2022
Thongchai Jaidee wrote a slice of golf history by becoming the first Thai golfer to win on PGA Tour Champions following a one-stroke victory over Tom Pernice Jr of the US at the American Family Insuran Read More