Tiger Woods during his first round at Shinnecock Hills.
It was a brutal, windy day on Long Island and ultimately, Shinnecock Hills was the winner.
The first round of the US Open was notable for high-scoring, even by the standards of the tournament that famously tests players more than any other.
Only four players of the 156-man field broke par — world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, fellow-American Scott Piercy and Russell Henley and Englishman Ian Poulter — but even they had hardly conquered the beast at one-under par 69.
The nine Australians did not escape the battle fatigue.
Not one of them is in the top 30 with only Aaron Baddeley and Marc Leishman, who both shot four-over par 74s, remotely in contention. Baddeley started out early and quickly grabbed the lead with a couple of early birdies, and he played solidly throughout until he took a triple bogey seven at the par-four sixth hole, his 15th of the day.
Jason Day came into the tournament as the most-fancied of his countrymen, but began with a 79, nine-over par, with eight bogeys, a double bogey and just the one birdie all day.
Ten shots from the lead, Day is probably already out of the running.
“It’s really difficult out there,” Day told reporters. “The wind was strong, the ball is getting blown around so much and with the locations of the pins you can’t get it close and on top of that it’s hard to putt.”
The top 60 players and ties will make the cut, and Day is 118th.
But he was hardly alone in his struggle. Matthew Jones (76), Jason Scrivener (78), Adam Scott (78), David Bransdon (79), Cameron Smith (79) and major championship debutant Lucas Herbert (83) all had their games shredded on a course that was meant to be set up in a more generous way by the USGA considering the weather conditions. Winds of 25-30 km/h whipped across the course from the first tee-off in the morning, and added to the severely-sloping greens it was clear that there would not be too much fun had.
The course never relented and the big names suffered as well. Tiger Woods carded a 78 having taken a triple bogey at his first hole of the day. Phil Mickelson’s quest for a first US Open title began with a 77, the same score as Bubba Watson and one better than Jordan Spieth’s 78. Rory McIlroy could not break 80.
Englishman Scott Gregory’s 92 was the low watermark of a day that will cause plenty of discussion. It was the first score in the 90s in the Open since 2002.
The scoring average was above 76, but there was little of the public grumbling that often accompanies the Open when it gets like this. Spieth said some of the pins were “dicey” but Dustin Johnson said it was fair. “It takes every mistake you make and makes it all worse,” said Charles Howell, who shot 71.
T37 Aaron Baddeley +4
T37 Marc Leishman +4
T67 Matt Jones +6
T101 Jason Scrivener +8
T101 Adam Scott +8
T115 David Bransdon +9
T115 Jason Day +9
T115 Cameron Smith +9
T148 Lucas Herbert +13