Poulter and DJ shine as Shinnecock spews carnage

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy tanked, but Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson have a share of the lead at the US Open as Shinnecock Hills bared its teeth on the opening day

What happened on the opening day of the US Open?

Nobody can really tell how a golf course is going to play until Thursday morning.

Before a ball was struck, there were murmurs that Shinnecock Hills was playing fairly modest.

Fairways had been widened and persistent rain on Wednesday had softened the course.

But, as we all know, the USGA has never been keen on its golf courses yielding copious amounts of birdies. Last year’s winning score of 16-under at Erin Hills would have wounded Mike Davis and co.

And it showed on the opening day of the 2018 US Open, as Shinnecock Hills wreaked havoc among the world’s best.

Only four players broke par, with Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson the shining lights.

The Englishman, Poulter, went out in the morning and continued his career resurgence to show up the likes of Rory McIlroy (+10), Jordan Spieth (+8) and Phil Mickelson (+7) by signing for a round of 69.

Poulter was matched in the clubhouse by Scott Piercy, who was the first alternate on Monday to fill the field to 156 players.

The afternoon was all about Johnson, who picked up from where he left off in Memphis to fire a 69. The world No.1 got to three-under at one point courtesy of magnificent touch on and around the glass-like greens – the same greens that were baffling Tiger Woods who four-putted the 13th on his way to an opening 78.

Russell Henley also managed to get to three-under on the front-nine, but the American came home in 37 to match the clubhouse lead.

Elsewhere, it was a forgettable day for England’s Scott Gregory, who made just three pars in a round of 92.

US Open day one leaderboard

Talking point

What to make of Tiger Woods’ opening round?

Expectations have to be tempered – after all, this is only his second major start since he returned to the game after fusion surgery.

But Woods has been impressive so far this season and many would have expected him to contend here on a golf course that puts emphasis on approach shots and touch around the greens.

Woods got off to the worst of starts. Standing in the middle of the fairway at the first, he flew the green and watched his flop shot trickle back to his feet.

A further four putts followed – two from off the green – on his way to an opening triple-bogey.

Woods then bogeyed the second hole, but then he started to steady the ship with a birdie at the fifth and plenty of pars.

The wheels then fell off, with back-to-back double-bogeys at the 13th and 14th. He would go on to par the final four holes to shoot a 78, nine shots adrift of the leaders.

The concern for Woods in recent starts has been his normally excellent putting, and that, seemingly, has continued into this week as he made hardly anything on the greens.

Woods will likely be fighting to just make the cut on Friday, but if he can post an under-par score, he won’t be out of this just yet.

Best quote

Ian Poulter:

My game’s good. I feel confident. I feel happy. I feel happy off the golf course. And that makes it a lot easier on the golf course.

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