Jun 18th, 2021
Henley and Oosthuizen lead 2021 U.S. Open
Koepka and McIlroy shine after fog delay as Bryson and Mickelson struggle
Words: GolfPunk Photography: USGA
Brooks Koepka took bragging rights in the so-called 'feud' between him and Bryson DeChambeau. Koepka looked his steely best as he carded an opening two-under 69 which included four birdies and two late bogeys.
Dechambeau looked a little out of sorts as he failed to bully the Torry Pines course on his way to a two-over 73. However, he did manage to get another blow in on Brooks when hilariously photobombing a television interview Koepka was giving.
A ninety-minute delay to the start of play at Torrey Pines resulted in 36 players failing to finish due to the fading light. Rory McIlroy made sure he completed by jogging up the 18th before holing his birdie putt to card a one-under 70.
It is one of McIlroy's better starts to a major championship of late and puts him just three off the lead. Perhaps the man from Northern Ireland's promise to "freewheel" might be working out for him around the Torry Pines South course.
The leaderboard has a real international feel with plenty of Europeans in the mix to try and break the Americans stranglehold on the event of late.
Both Molinari brothers excelled on day one, with Francesco leading the way on three-under two shots ahead of his elder brother Edoardo.
It is the first time the brothers have seen each other In 18 months, having been separated because of travel restrictions caused by the COVID pandemic.
"We text and we talk pretty often," Francesco said. "But obviously it's not the same, especially after such a long time. It's definitely the first time that we've been apart for so long, so nice to see him."
Jon Rahm seems to have put the heartbreak of The Memorial behind him as he posted a solid round of 69. Compatriate Rafael Cabrera Bello went one shot better with a 68, leaving him one shot off the lead.
The English duo of Richard Bland and Marcus Armitage, who had emotional victories on the European Tour, recently had an excellent start with Armitage round in level par and Bland one shot better at one-under.
The solid English contingent in contention also includes Tyrrell Hatton and Matthew Fitzpatrick both on one-under and Lee Westwood and Paul Casey on level par.
Phil Mickelson, who is looking for that elusive U.S. Open title to complete the career grand slam at the age of 51, got off to a slow start bogeying three of his first six holes. He got a shot back with a birdie at the 17th hole, his eighth but let two more shots late on to finish on four-over-par.
Matt Wolff, who chased Dechambeau home alt last year's event, had the most adventurous round of the day that included eight birdies, five pars, three bogeys and two double bogeys for a one-under 70.