Recapping the First Round of the 2024 U.S. Open

Patrick Cantlay, Rory McIlroy, and Bryson DeChambeau are among those to shine bright during the first round of the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2


Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy sit tied atop the U.S. Open leaderboard but a lot happened on Thursday at Pinehurst No. 2.

Well, we’re waiting

By Will Knights

In the history of the Official World Golf Ranking, only three players have spent more weeks in the top 10 without a major championship victory than Patrick Cantlay. The power tool-toting PAC power player sits tied atop the U.S. Open leaderboard after a nearly flawless opening-round 65.

It’s not surprising that Cantlay is in the mix early on. He is one of the best players in the world. What is surprising is how infrequently we’ve seen this kind of play from him in major championships. Cantlay has just four top-10 finishes and one top 5 in his major career, a woefully low total for a world-class player. And while I just said it isn’t surprising that he’s at the top of the leaderboard, it actually kind of is for this major specifically. By his standards, Cantlay has played a lot of mediocre golf in 2024. He hasn’t finished better than T-22 in either of the first two majors of the year. But on Thursday he flashed elite traits with his iron play and short game. If he’s able to carry that through this weekend, there’s a strong chance he’ll join his friend Xander as the second first-time major winner of 2024.

Patience, grasshopper

By Will Knights

Here’s a secret: Rory McIlroy has been REALLY good in opening rounds of recent U.S. Opens. The four-time major winner hasn’t shot worse than 70 in any of the last six opening rounds of the championship. Consequently, he hasn’t finished worse than T-9 in his previous five tries. While his Thursday 65 was significantly better than playing partners Scottie Scheffler and Xander Schauffele, the most impressive part of his round was his discipline. During his decade-long majorless streak, Rory has had a tendency to get impatient and cost himself shots. “There was a little stretch there on the beginning of the back nine where I kept hitting it to 20 feet and missing putts,” he said after the round. “I could have got frustrated but I feel like my patience was rewarded with birdies on two of the last three holes.” It’s the only attitude you can have at Pinehurst No. 2, and one he’ll need to maintain for 54 more holes.

The importance of being open

By Joseph LaMagna

Do stars make tournaments or do tournaments make stars? 

It’s an important question to examine, especially within a shifting professional golf landscape trending towards smaller, more walled-off fields. A landscape significantly influenced by the preferences of the biggest stars in the sport, stars who rose through the ranks because of the pathways provided to them.  

Logan McAllister is the 459th-ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings. He’s missed five cuts in a row on the Korn Ferry Tour. One of 72 qualifiers playing in the 124th edition of the United States Open, McAllister earned his way into the field after shooting 68-71 in final qualifying in Dallas. As I watched him plod and scramble his way toward an impressive opening-round 70 at the U.S. Open, I had a renewed appreciation for the sense of hope provided by a championship like this one. It offers a pathway to compete in one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments no matter what the world rankings or your recent run of form suggests about the state of your game. I thought about the emotions Logan must have felt walking off the 18th green today, and how they must have included a sense of pride amidst a difficult run of consecutive missed cuts on a development tour.

I caught up with him after his round to ask if he’d be wearing a Fried Egg Golf belt the rest of the week and also about the importance of open qualifying and having pathways into golf’s biggest tournaments. Regarding his belt scripting, I’m happy to report that he will rep the Fried Egg belt all week with the exception of when he’s wearing black pants. Regarding open qualifying, he answered, “No matter where my career takes me I think I’ll be successful, but if I wasn’t, I’ll still be able to say I played at the highest level for a week…you have a high school teacher (Colin Prater) in the field this week playing against the best players, and I think that’s one of the coolest things about professional golf.”

It’s true of the U.S. Open, but it isn’t true of all of professional golf. The majority of the most prestigious PGA Tour events have never been more difficult to participate in, some of which is understandable. Fans want to see the best players in the world compete head-to-head, and changes to the PGA Tour product over the past couple of years have increased the number of times that occurs. At the same time, there are now fewer tournaments each year for hungry, ambitious golfers to lay in bed dreaming about winning. More obstacles sit between aspiring golfers and entrance into the highest-profile tournaments.

The U.S. Open still offers that hope. Sign up, qualify, and you can compete against the best players in the world. The chances of catching lightning in a bottle and beating those best players in the world are slim, but there’s a big difference between the chances being slim and the chances being zero.

While much of the golf world moves towards smaller fields and discovers new, creative ways to funnel millions of dollars into the hands of the stars who are already made, the openness of the U.S. Open has never felt like a more vital feature to promote and preserve.

Other Thursday notes and notables

Scottie Scheffler showed up to Pinehurst No. 2 with a *fresh* haircut and beard trim. Some people are saying he changed his appearance after a recent run-in with the law.

Tiger Woods opened with a birdie before losing some steam down the stretch, finishing with a 74. 

Phil Mickelson shot 79, good for a tie with Colorado high school teacher Colin Prater. 

Former Oklahoma standout Logan McAllister saw some shine early in Thursday’s telecast. As it so happens, he was sporting a retro Fried Egg belt!

Matthieu Pavon heads to Friday near the top of the leaderboard thanks in large part to making two opening-round eagles, first at 5 and then again at 10. The second eagle gave him the solo lead, though two back-nine bogeys left him with a three-under 67. 

Collin Morikawa made five birdies, but two double bogeys hindered his day. The first, at 9, included a greenside bunker shot that also serves as a great example of Pinehurst’s danger. Morikawa finished strong, though, getting sand redemption on 17 and then rolling in a bomb on 18 to finish with an even-par 70.

Brooks Koepka turned down media after an opening 70 that could have been 67 but he did speak with Eamon Lynch via text. Cliff notes: Brooks thinks the media needs to be more creative with their questions and he had a dip and was preparing to watch the Florida Panthers game.

It was a tough round for Brendan’s boy Matteo Manassero, who shot 79. We aren’t trying to pile on, but watching him attempt to putt from off the green only to see the ball roll right back is a great example of how any suggestion that the course allowing putts from off the green makes it inherently easier is a bad take. As Joseph has pointed out this week, that’s still a skilled shot, it’s just a different skill than we usually see tested.

Chipping isn’t easy either, as evidenced by Hideki’s effort here

This might honestly be the most “Tyrrell Hatton” that Tyrrell Hatton has ever been, as the angry Englishman executed a fluid and flawless club drop for a shot that ended up in birdie range. (He converted.) 

Hopes were high for Viktor Hovland after strong recent performances but he faltered to a first-round 78. He is still looking for his first top-10 finish in a U.S. Open.

Billy Horschel tried his baton-toss routine, missed the catch, and then had to repair a divot caused by said baton toss. Mike Tirico called the entire thing. Tough when an athlete bungles their signature move. Like seeing Steph Curry airball a three and then trip into the first row.

After extending his major streak, Adam Scott closed with a lengthy birdie to card an opening-round 70. He also rolled in an absurd putt from off the green. 

This piece originally appeared in the Fried Egg Golf newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. For more coverage of the U.S. Open, visit our U.S. Open hub here.