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SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 17: Russell Henley of the United States watches his tee shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course) on June 17, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo : Harry How/Getty Images)
Russell Henley and Louis Oosthuizen grabbed a share of the lead when play was suspended after Thursday’s fog-delayed opening round in the 2021 U.S. Open. Henley shot a four-under-par 67 to claim the clubhouse lead.
Henley and Oosthuizen shoot lowest scores
Henley managed to get up-and-down on the par-5 18th hole and drained a clutch six-foot birdie putt for a one-shot advantage over Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera Bello among those who finished.
It was a fantastic round by Henley who struggled in his last appearance here at Torrey Pines. He shot a 79 the last time he played the South Course in the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open. Henley played much solid golf this time around, improving his score by a whopping 12 strokes.
Joining Henley at the top of the leaderboard was Oosthuizen. The former Open champion was among 36 players who failed to finish their opening rounds because of the 90-minute fog delay at the start. They will resume play Friday morning and then head straight into their second rounds. Oosthuizen, who finished runner-up to Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship last month at Kiawah Island, was at four under par with two holes remaining in his round.
Speaking of Mickelson, his quest for a maiden U.S. Open title got off to a rocky start as Lefty shot a four-over-par 75 in the first round. The six-time major winner occasionally found himself distracted by cell phone noise in the gallery as he finished his round with just one birdie to his card.
Major winners Koepka and McIlroy in the mix
Even with Mickelson out of the mix, this year’s U.S. Open promises to be an exciting one with a host of big names at the top of the leaderboard after the first round. Brooks Koepka, who’s looking for his third win in his last four U.S. Open starts, shot a two-under-par 69 on Thursday to trail the leaders by just two shots.
This was Koepka’s sixth consecutive round in the 60s at the U.S. Open, the major tournament that most consider to be the toughest test in golf. Dating to Koepka’s final round at Oakmont, 11 of his past 14 rounds in the U.S. Open have been in the 60s, a remarkable feat to say the least.
Also in the mix this week is Jon Rahm. The Spaniard impressed in his first round since his controversial withdrawal from the Memorial Tournament, shooting a two-under-par 69. Rahm, who left the Memorial with a six-shot lead before the final round due to a positive COVID-19 test, closed with seven consecutive pars at Torrey Pines to remain within striking distance of the leaders.
Rory McIlroy also was in the red numbers on Thursday, finishing with a one-under-par 70 after draining a five-foot closing birdie at the 18th hole before play was suspended. This was a good omen for McIlroy who has struggled lately with his opening rounds in the majors. The Northern Irishman is a combined 35 over par in the first rounds of major championships dating back to the 2015 Masters. McIlroy, however, is a combined 60 under par in the second through fourth rounds. He will definitely be one to watch as the tournament heads into the weekend.
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