Published: Fri, June 14, 2019
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Rose rides hot putter to U.S. Open lead

Rose rides hot putter to U.S. Open lead

Tiger Woods and two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka turned in scrappy efforts to stay in contention.

This is the sixth U.S. Open played at Pebble Beach and it has never been easy on the players, with Tiger Woods and Mickelson among those who complained about the condition of the greens the last time the tournament was here, in 2010, when Graeme McDowell won it with a score of even par.

Woods is a three-time victor at the U.S. Open.

"You're not going to beat the scenery and everything about this golf course, and it's just the weather we're having at the moment, it makes this week really special".

Where: Pebble Beach Golf Links (Pebble Beach, Calif.).

It was an ideal start for Rose and for the USGA, which wants a smooth ride after four years of various mishaps in the U.S. Open.

Woods took advantage of the scoring holes with three birdies, but there was one blunder - a tee shot he hooked on the par-3 fifth that smacked off the cart path into gnarly, deep grass some 20 yards behind the edge of the bleachers.

Thirty-nine players posted scores under par, led by the man at the top, 2013 U.S. Open victor Justin Rose, who shot a 6-under 65 to take a one-shot lead over Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Louis Oosthuizen and Aaron Wise, all of whom posted 5-under 66s. Woods, who went off late in the day and helped close out the afternoon wave as the sun splashed against maybe the prettiest backdrop in all of American golf, hit the ball quite poorly but putted his way to a 1-under 70 in Round 1.

So the USGA has spent extra time leading up to this year's tournament talking to dozens of players about how best to lay out the course so it can still achieve the goal of being the "toughest test" in golf, while not crossing the line and being unfair to the players.

McDowell won the last U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010 when it was so hard he made only one birdie in the final round and no one broke par for the week.

Then a year ago, a few bad pin placements on the back nine at Shinnecock Hills made the course nearly unplayable on Saturday, when the final 45 players who teed off all failed to break par.

"Pebble Beach, you have the first seven to get it going, and after that it's a fight", Woods said.

"There's a lot of other things that I'd love to be remembered by, work off the golf course and making a difference and changing people's lives". In fact, he was over par in the first round of each of the previous seven U.S. Opens.

On a day of missed opportunities, the biggest came on the par four third hole when he missed a tap-in putt to the astonishment of the gallery. "And I just need to go out and shoot something in the 60s [on Friday] and I'll be in a good spot in the weekend". "But this was a chance to get a few under par, and I just didn't quite do it". "And I'm playing well enough to do it".

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