Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm made great impressions on the leaderboard at Pebble Beach, California, as Round 1 of the 2019 U.S. Open got under way on Thursday.
The best in the world have travelled to the United States' west coast for the penultimate major of the year, and Fowler looked particularly motivated early on to finally end his wait for a major title.
Las Vegas native Scott Piercy—who finished joint-second in the 2016 U.S. Open—shot up the leaderboard out of the gate, recording three birdies and an eagle in his first six holes. He held his place around the summit into the afternoon but signed off with a bogey to hold a joint lead of four under as he finished.
Fowler birdied at the 15th hole after Piercy finished his round to snatch a slim lead at the turn and send a message to the rest of the field that he's making serious moves towards the title.
Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose will all tee off later on Thursday, but NBC's Golf Central posted a breakdown of the leaderboard's top end midway through the round:
Visit the U.S. Open website to view the leaderboard in full.
Round 1 Recap
There are few active players on the circuit who want to end their wait for a maiden major as much as Fowler probably does, having finished on the podium of each Grand Slam tournament.
The 30-year-old took silver at the 2014 U.S. Open and is hinting at another fierce challenge for the crown half a decade on, taking the initiative as one of Thursday's earlier tee times.
Fowler was flawless aside from a bogey on the 507-yard ninth, and it was well timed that back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th holes pulled him into the lead for the first time, via the Golf Channel (U.S. only):
McIlroy won the 2019 Canadian Open on Sunday to suggest he could be on the kind of hot streak one needs to break a five-year run without major silverware.
The Northern Irishman teed off on the 10th and bogeyed the par four in what was a disastrous start. Perhaps that shouldn't have been surprising, considering McIlroy is already fighting to break new ground at Pebble Beach, via the U.S. Open (U.S. only)
However, he eventually settled to record birdies on Nos. 13, 17, 2 and 3 as he pieced together a more promising first-day foundation:
Tyrrell Hatton was the most impressive Englishman among the early starters, and he failed to record a bogey through 15 holes to also hint at his promise in California.
As for Piercy, it seems all but impossible that his time rubbing elbows with the elite will continue, though golf writer Pat Ralph couldn't help but feel his run against the odds made sense:
The 40-year-old ranks 59th in the Official World Golf Rankings, and he could struggle to maintain this pace after racing ahead so early on in the competition.