Friday, June 24, 2016

U.S. Open Round 1 wrapup: Dustin Johnson, rolling early yet again

The opening round at Oakmont took more than 30 hours, thanks to multiple weather delays and an early closure to Thursday's competition. A marathon Friday kicked off early, and halfway through, we saw the end of the U.S. Open's first round. Here are the high points at the tournament's quarter-pole.

Dustin Johnson doing Dustin Johnson things. If you were laying odds on a player to find the top of the leaderboard at any point during a tournament, you'd bet the house on Johnson, who always seems to come up big ... at least for a time. Last year, he held a share of the lead at Chambers Bay after the first round, and this year, he's just one stroke behind at the same point. Johnson's troubles are in closing out tournaments, as the rest of the universe reminds him every major, but what's indisputable is that he puts himself into position to win. On Friday, he followed his usual routine: bomb the hell out of the ball off the tee, send it screaming into the green on approach, and then futz around a bit with the putter until he jars it. The strategy worked on Friday; Johnson's bogey-free round was the first at Oakmont in the U.S. Open since Loren Roberts in 1994.

The Big Three are the Big 15 Over Par: The bet of Jason Day, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy vs. The Field drew some takers coming into the week, and why not? Winners of seven majors between them, in late contention or victorious at every single one of the past six, it stood to reason that at least one of them would hammer this course. It could still happen, but it's going to take a herculean effort. McIlroy finished the first round at +7, Day at +6,, and Spieth with the by-comparison decent +2, six strokes off the lead. There's plenty of time, but for now, The Field is a huge favorite.

Andrew Landry's flawless day: Landry set a record for fewest strokes in a single day at any tournament in golf history: one. All right, technically it's not really a record, but Landry had only a lone birdie putt on Friday to finish out a round that saw him at -4 and in sole possession of first place thanks to an Oakmont-record 66. How long will he remain in contention? At least until Saturday, when he's scheduled to start his second round.

Sergio? Sergio! Sergio Garcia has spent so much time atop the Best Never To Win A Major list that he might as well get the damn thing named after him. Conventional wisdom holds that the Open Championship is likely Garcia's best chance to snag that elusive major, but after one round at Oakmont, he finds himself just two strokes off the lead. Playing in Johnson's grouping, Garcia rode in DJ's wake, and now finds himself near the lead of a tournament where he's never placed higher than T3, and where he has only four top-10s in 16 attempts.

The second round began before the first even concluded. Whole lotta golf for some players; 36 holes of major-level competition at Oakmont is as draining as this game gets. Anyone able to reach the weekend within sight of par will consider themselves lucky.

Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.


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