Dustin Johnson tied for lead as Woods, McIlroy struggle at U.S. Open
Dustin Johnson was one of just four players to shoot an under-par opening round at the U.S. Open.
World number one Dustin Johnson finished the opening round of the U.S. Open as one of four players tied for the lead after most battled in brutal conditions.
Johnson finished the day at one under with four birdies and three bogeys despite gusting winds providing a difficult test for the world's best at Shinnecock Hills on Thursday.
No one has ever won the week before the U.S. Open and then claimed the major in the same year, but St Jude Classic champion Johnson has the chance to end that anomaly after his opening 69.
Under sunny skies and confounding breezes, Shinnecock was playing tough, rewarding those who hit their spots, scrambled gamely and avoided big numbers, such as early round one leader Scott Piercy, an alternate who a week ago was not in the field, but posted the first red number with his 69.
"It's playing tough. I was just was able to strike the ball solid, keep the ball down out of the wind, I felt. I was able to put it in the right spots," said Piercy, a 39-year-old American who admitted he was so frustrated with his play during a practice round this week that he walked off after four holes.
Ian Poulter and Russell Henley joined Piercy and Johnson at one under. Poulter made the turn at two under but gave a shot back on his back nine, though he narrowly missed an ace on the 157-yard 11th.
"It's nice to get into the clubhouse with a red number. I don't think I've done it before at a U.S. Open, so it's nice," Poulter said.
Henley played in the afternoon, when it looked like scoring would be a little easier. But players ultimately battled the wind and struggled to find birdies. Henley finished his round with an eagle, three birdies, a double bogey and two bogeys.
Jason Dufner ended the day in fifth after firing an even-par 70. Dufner made four birdies and four bogeys to help master the difficult course and conditions.
Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, both major champions, shot one-over 71s. Rose played early in the morning, fighting the strongest winds to finish with two birdies and three bogeys.
Matthieu Pavon, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman, Sam Burns and An Byeong-hun all joined them at one over.
The course punished some of the game's stars for their missteps early, leaving them facing a long climb on Friday to avoid going home early.
Rory McIlroy posted a head-scratching 10-over 80, including a four-hole stretch on his opening nine where he went bogey-bogey-double bogey-double bogey.
Defending champion Brooks Koepka shot five over. Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson shot seven over, joined on that score by Phil Mickelson. Jordan Spieth shot eight over. Jason Day fired a nine-over 79, and then there was McIlroy's 10-over 80.
While all of those rounds were disappointing, Tiger Woods' eight-over 78 really deflated the afternoon's mood. After starting with a triple bogey on the par-four first hole and following it up with a bogey on number two, Woods righted the ship to shoot a three-over 38 on the front nine.
But two straight double bogeys on the back nine sent Woods drifting behind the leaders, while leaving him in scramble mode to make the cut on Friday.
This was only the sixth time in Woods' career in which he carded three double bogeys or worse in a single round. The only other time he had done it in a major was in the first round of the 2011 US PGA Championship. He has never had four double bogeys in a round, regardless of tournament.