LEADERBOARD -4 Hadwin; -3 McIlroy, Dahmen, Daffue, Lingmerth, Tarren; -2 Buckley, NeSmith, Harman, Wise, D. Johnson, Rose, Fitzpatrick; SELECTED OTHERS -1 Zalatoris, Morikawa, Rahm, Thomas, Johnson; E Schauffele, DeChambeau, Shceffler; +2 Spieth, Cantlay; +3 Koepka, Jacklin; +8 Mickelson.
Rory McIlroy claimed he is “comfortable” with his game after producing a vintage display at the US Open.
Part of the morning wave at the Country Club, the 33-year-old shot 67 on day one to sit one back of Canada’s Adam Hadwin.
“Comfort,” he replied when asked what the overriding feeling was after round one. “Knowing my game is in good shape.
“Playing 72 holes at the US Open is like playing under pressure the whole time, but I’m comfortable with where everything is.
“Mentally I am in a good spot and I showed that today with some of the par saves.”
A bogey at the last will, in his eyes at least, take some of the gloss off the day – but in the circumstances, it was as good a start as he could have dreamed of.
This was McIlroy at his dynamic and highly entertaining best.
It wasn’t plain sailing, either. On several occasions he was forced to scramble to save par, and on the fifth – his 14th – he lost his cool when a tough spot led to more trouble.
But still he gave himself chances. Birdies at the 16th and 18th were followed by more at the seventh and eighth, at one point giving him the outright lead.
The crowds were on-side too, roaring their man along every step of the way.
And although he gave one back at the last, this was a display which showed plenty of promise.
In the second wave of starters, Hadwin was the man to beat. A run of five birdies in six holes on the front nine gave him the perfect platform.
Matt Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, was returning to the scene of his US Amateur victory in 2013. There is clearly something about the Country Club he loves.
Par or better meant a good day’s work. Defending champion Jon Rahm finished the day one-under, along with US PGA winner Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and perennial contender Will Zalatoris.
At the other end of the scale, Phil Mickelson was among those to toil. Five-over through six, he slowed the flood of dropped shots to a trickle but will almost certainly not be in Boston by the time Saturday morning rolls round.