U.S. Open Highlights: Day 1
Mickelson Officially Withdraws
Phil Mickelson officially withdrew from this year's U.S. Open a few minutes after 8:00 a.m. today. With the weather forecast favorable, Mickelson realized his chances of playing this year had officially hit zero. Mickelson previously announced that he planned on attending his daughter's graduation ceremony on Thursday morning. His only chance of attending and still making his tee-time relied on some sort of delay in play today. When that clearly wasn't going to happen, Phil chose to make his announcement early in the day to allow alternate Roberto Diaz to properly prepare for his round.
Fowler Off to Fast Start
Following all of the hand-wringing and complaining about the severity of the test ahead of the field at Erin Hills this week, Rickie Fowler and several others turned that thinking on its head. Fowler was out early and carded an impressive and steady 7-under 65. Fowler's round has many wondering if Erin Hills might just have a 63 waiting for us. I suspect the USGA will do whatever it can to toughen up the conditions going into the weekend. I'm sure no one involved in running this tournament is interested in seeing the winner pushing 20-under par on Sunday. If conditions stay as they are now we could see just that. Maybe entertaining for the casual fan, but, a disaster for traditionalists.
— Mark Rogers (@Markwcm) June 15, 2017
At approximately 11:30 a.m. local time reports began coming in that a blimp flying around the U.S. Open had caught fire and crashed. The blimp went down well away from the course. Geoff Shackelford was the first to report that the blimp did not belong to Fox Sports who is covering this year's event. It was quickly confirmed by the USGA:
A blimp unaffiliated with the #USOpen or @FOXSports has crashed near Erin Hills. Pilot was injured and first responders are on the scene. — U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 15, 2017
It was later clarified that the blimp belonged to the aerial advertising firm AirSign.
— AirSign (@AirSign) June 15, 2017
ESPN writer Ian O'Connor then reported via Twitter that the pilot was alert and conscious and being treated for burns and other injuries. He later confirmed that the injured pilot was the only person onboard the blimp at the time of the incident. You can read more about the dramatic crash and rescue on ESPN.com
While so many others were going low, Spieth, Johnson, McIlroy, Rahm, and Day were struggling. Spieth ended the day 1-over and a challenging 8-strokes behind earlier leader Fowler. Johnson struggled even more, finishing at 3-over. Both players blamed their putting, being happy for the most part tee to green.
McIlroy struggles included plenty of stokes lost recovering from the fescue. His driver simply wasn't working for him today. We knew that was coming after his press conference though didn't we? McIlroy ended the day carding a disappointing 6-over par 78 and the questions about his physical health continue.
Jon Rahm seemed to let his now famous temper get the better of him on Thursday. Starting his round on the back nine, Rahm opened with a 40 including the club-slamming and a bit of cursing. He managed to regain some control for his back-9 and managed to post a final score of 4-over 76.
Jason Day had a nightmare, seeming to falter in every way possible. His opening round of 7-over 79 will require something spectacular on Friday in response. More likely, however, Friday will see Jason Day's tournament come to an early end. Other notables on Thursday:
- -7 Rickie Fowler
- -6 Paul Casey
- -4 Patrick Reed
- -3 Lee Westwood
- -3 Andrew Johnson
- -2 Ernie Els
- -2 Sergio Garcia
- E Adam Scott
- E Justin Rose
- +2 Henrik Stenson
- +2 Hideki Matsuyama
- +2 Matt Kuchar
- +3 Bubba Watson
- +9 Danny Willett
Friday is sure to provide more excitement and surprises. The U.S. Open always does.