It turns out that watching golf at Pebble Beach is pretty fun. Thursday at the U.S. Open was a low-scoring affair—historically so, in fact. Twenty-seven players broke 70 during the first round, but Justin Rose stands alone on top. U.S. Open Leaderboard
The last 45 minutes of Justin Rose’s round changed the Thursday headline. Three under through 15 holes, Rose birdied his last three to grab the lead. He led the field in Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green and SG: Putting.
Rose has been a top-five player for the better part of the last two seasons. He has won 16 tournaments in the past decade, one of them the 2014 U.S. Open at Merion. It may be a coincidence, but both Merion and Pebble Beach are set up short and narrow by the USGA. Rose did not hit the ball well off the tee or approaching the green on Thursday, skills he’ll have to improve if he is going to collect his second major championship.
Pebble Beach played softer than expected on Thursday. Cloud cover kept moisture in the ground, and birdies and eagles were readily available, leading to a bunched leaderboard. We have 15 players within three shots of the lead and tons to talk about.
One back – Four players—Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Louis Ooshuizen, and Aaron Wise—thought they were going to be the leaders going into Friday. All four shot 66, but Xander did so in the most exciting fashion, eagling the 18th. Oosty is the only player in the group to have won a major, the 2010 Open Championship.
Piercy – The man who spent the most time on top of the leaderboard was Scott Piercy. Starting on the front nine, Piercy was five under through six holes after making eagle on the sixth hole. He played the rest of his round one over par, but still put together a respectable 67.
Lashley – One of the lesser-known names on the leaderboard is Nate Lashley. A career journeyman, Lashley put together a bogey-free 67 in his first U.S. Open round. Lashley won three times on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica in 2016, won on the Web.com Tour in 2017, and has been on the PGA Tour for the last two years.
Rory – Mr. McIlroy put together a good Thursday U.S. Open round! Rory shot a first-round 68, spending much of the day near the top of the leaderboard. He has missed his last three cuts at the U.S. Open, but a softer Pebble allowed him to find some mojo. Rory gained most of his strokes on the greens on Thursday, a stat that does not usually bode well for week-long performance.
McDowell – The only player in the morning wave to play bogey-free golf was Graeme McDowell. The 2010 U.S. Open champion shot 69 on Thursday, making many clutch par saves along the way. McDowell obviously has great memories around Pebble Beach and is playing solid golf in 2019.
Brooks – The two-time defending champ did not waste any time on Thursday. Brooks birdied four of his first seven holes, but had to settle for 69 (-2) and sits four shots off the lead. Koepka was two back after the first round in 2017 and six back in 2018.
Tiger – It was an up-and-down day for Tiger Woods. He shot a solid round of 70, but he didn’t strike the ball well. He hit just nine greens and lost more than a shot to the field approaching the green. Tiger will need to tighten up his iron play on Friday to be in contention this weekend.
Amateurs – Viktor Hovland leads the amateur charge at this year’s U.S. Open after an opening 69. While technically an amateur, Hovland will turn professional after the U.S. Open. One shot back of Hovy is Jovan Rebula (70), while Brandon Wu (71) and U.S. Junior Amateur champion Michael Thorbjornsen (71) are two back.
Billy Kennerly leads the Lincoln Land Championship by one shot on the Web.com Tour. Leaderboard
Jenny Shin and Kathrine Perry lead the Meijer LPGA Classic after opening with 66s. Leaderboard
The Alabama Amateur featured three brothers inside the top 10. Read how the Goldasich family took over the tournament. Full Story
Live from the Bixby House: A “soft” start at Pebble, Spieth’s searing critique, investigating PXG’s heroes program
We are live Thursday night at the Bixby House for immediate thoughts following the opening round at Pebble Beach. We begin celebrating a certain ace at the 12th hole. Then we react to some early low scores, including Justin Rose’s pace-setting 65 late in the day. Did the USGA go too soft? Will they overreact? Or was it just right? Then we get to Jordan Spieth dressing down his caddie, Michael Greller, and ponder whether it was the usual back-and-forth in that relationship or outside the boundary. Then we’re blessed with a visitor at the Bixby House as No Laying Up’s D.J. Piehowski joins to discuss his early impressions from the first day. We get into conditions, low-round predictions for Friday, and who from the top of the leaderboard is most likely to eject. Then Andy reveals the findings of his investigation into the PXG Heroes program which had ads running all day. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify