After a week of predicting tough play and high scores, Pebble Beach was about as friendly as anyone could expect for a U.S. Open. Anyone who wasn’t able to reach red numbers is going to feel a sense of urgency going into Friday’s second round, as the leaderboard is packed with 39 golfers under par and five at 5-under or better.
Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Louis Oosthuizen all dropped 66’s in the morning wave, setting the pace and letting everyone know that it was a day for scoring. The greens were soft and receptive, and the wind never reached a speed that penalizing or terribly impactful, contributing to a record-setting 17 eagles in the round.
But that score was bested during the final hour of play as Justin Rose finished off a round of 65 that tied Tiger Woods’ record for low score at a Pebble Beach-hosted U.S. Open. Woods’ 65 contributed to his record-setting 15-stroke win in 2000 where no one else finished under par. Based on the way things went on Thursday, it’s highly unlikely that Rose will be the only one under par at the of Sunday’s final round.
Before we break out the outrage and wonder why the U.S. Open is playing like the AT&T Pro-Am, it’s important to note that this course will firm up as the weekend progresses and there’s no guarantee that the wind will be as calm as it was on Thursday. We’ve seen in Pebble Beach’s history of hosting U.S. Opens the weather allow low scores on one day and turn the next, creating conditions that make even par a formidable score.
“All this golf course needs is just a little tweak here and there, and it can play a lot more difficult,” Rory McIlroy said after his 3-under round of 68. “So while the conditions are this benign and the golf course is still sort of soft and slow, you need to take advantage of it, and thankfully I did today.”
Friday will be the USGA’s first chance to tweak, and we’ll see if those adjustments result in scores falling back closer to par. Here’s how the leaderboard looks after the first round at Pebble Beach:
1. Justin Rose (-6): The ball-striking wasn’t perfect for Rose but he had a lights-out day with the putter to keep a par train rolling through the middle of his round before catching fire with a couple of scores late to land first place on the leaderboard. Usually when we see great putting and less-than-stellar ball-striking, it can be a sign of future regression, but it seems just as likely a world-class player like Rose corrects accuracy issues and rides this to a second U.S. Open title.
T2. Rickie Fowler (-5): Fowler admitted to Fox Sport’s Joel Klatt that he left some shots out there, noting that 66 was “about as bad as I could have shot.” After hitting 13 fairways and 15 greens, Fowler can feel comfortable that his swing is in a good place and now he just needs to make some putts to go and win his first major championship.
T2. Xander Schauffele (-5): This round could have gone south at the end after a bogey on 16 that saw Xander yank a chip and nearly double-bogey on the 402-yard par-4. But instead he buried a tough six-foot putt for bogey and went on to card an eagle at 18 to finish his round. Schauffele has nothing but top-six finishes at U.S. Open’s so far in his young career and this first round looks like we’re headed back in that direction.
T2. Louis Oosthuizen (-5): Catching fire down the stretch is going to give Oosty some good feels heading into Friday. The former Open champ played the front nine (his second nine) with three birdies and no bogeys to surge up the leaderboard.
T2. Aaron Wise (-5): It was elite putting day for Wise, who had to roll in some tough par putts on his second nine to remain near the top of the leaderboard. Those par putts are the kind of the scores that help you remain in contention while the rest of the field falls by the wayside, and if that putter stays hot this young talent could find himself in the mix to win his first major.
T6. Scott Piercy (-4): Typically you think a player needs to hit fairways in order to finish under par at Pebble Beach, but Piercy defied that logic with just 43 percent accuracy off the tee. He made up for it with great approach shots and until a bogey at 18 seemed to have one of the best rounds of the day going.
T6. Nate Lashley (-4): The 2016 PGA Tour Latinoamerica Player of the Year qualified for his first U.S. Open by winning a playoff at a sectional in Ontario, Canada. Needless to say, things are going about as well as most imagined for the 36-year old. Lashley ranked third in the field in strokes gained around the green, which helped him remain bogey-free during his round of 67.
T8. Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Chesson Hadley, Chez Reavie, Gary Woodland, Emiliano Grillo, Sepp Straka (-3): First of all, it’s great to see Molinari back in his comfort zone, hitting greens and playing the kind of steady golf that had him in contention at Augusta National earlier this year. But the story is McIlroy, who after three straight missed cuts at U.S. Opens fired a three-under round of 68 without being elite off the tee. Ball-striking got Rory to the win in Canada last week, and it appears to be carrying him to U.S. Open contention here.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way Thursday updating this story with the latest scores, analysis and highlights from Round 1 of the 2019 U.S. Open. If you are unable to view the updates below, please click here.
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