The Latest: Kuchar, Poulter, Hoffman hot early at US Open
The Latest on the U.S. Open’s first round Thursday (all times local):
Three veteran golfers chasing their first major victory are off to strong starts at the U.S. Open.
Matt Kuchar, who has been close in major events several times in his 18 years as a professional, birdied the first and fifth holes.
Ian Poulter, whose best U.S. Open finish is 12th in 2006, birdied the fourth and seventh holes to join Kuchar at 2 under. The Englishman has been a pro since 1994.
The 41-year-old Charley Hoffman finished eighth in last year’s tournament and was 12th at this season’s Masters. He started on the back nine and birdied Nos. 10 and 13.
Masters champion Patrick Reed is off to an up-and-down start to his first round of the U.S. Open.
Reed, who won his first major title in April, started on the back nine and birdied the 10th and 11th holes. He immediately followed with a bogy, then had another bogey at No. 14 to stand at even par.
His playing partners, Zach Johnson and Charl Schwartzel, both major winners, aren’t doing quite so well. Johnson is 2 over and Schwartzel is 3 over.
It’s been a rough go early at the U.S. Open for Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. All three multiple major winners were finding Shinnecock Hills very difficult in the first round.
Mickelson, seeking to complete a career Grand Slam with a win at the U.S. Open, was 3-over par through five holes. Playing partners Spieth, owner of three major titles, was 5 over in the same marquee threesome, and McIlroy, who has four major championships, was 6 over in that group.
Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen and Zach Johnson, all major winners, were over par through a handful of holes.
But defending champion Brooks Koepka was one of the few under par, 1 under through five after a birdie at the opening hole.
The U.S. Open has begun on a century-old golf course with a new look.
Harold Varner hit the opening tee shot on a gorgeous Thursday morning at Shinnecock Hills, using a fairway metal to hit a fairway that was some 60 yards wide in the landing zone. He still watched it anxiously, only because a marshal unaware the U.S. Open had started ambled across the fairway, and broke into a sprint when he heard the ball land near him.
Scott Piercy and Matthieu Pavon of France also found the short grass — Piercy in the first fairway, Pavon so far right that it cleared the knee-high fescue and landed on the ninth hole.
The fairways are 15 yards wider on average than the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock.