Big Names Flame Out at the US Open as Johnson Lays Down Marker

Jonathan Grant | June 15th, 2018

One of the oldest adages in golf is that you can’t win a tournament in round 1. But boy can you ever lose it. That’s exactly what happened to a number of the finest golfers in the world on Thursday as the US Open began at Shinnecock Hills. On a day in which the wind was up and the course played extremely difficult, no one managed more than one under par. Dustin Johnson was one of those men, alongside Scott Piercy, Ian Poulter, and Russell Henley. Only Jason Dufner (even par) was not over par.

While those feats have to be commended, the story here is about who is out of the running already. Of course, a miraculous round could pull any of these players back in. Given the way the course was set up on Thursday, though, a 66 would likely be a very lofty score. And that would only make up four shots for these players. The list of stars that are very unlikely to be winning the US Open this year include Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth (+8), lefties Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson (+7), Jason Day (+9), and Rory McIlroy (+10).

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These names are pretty shocking to say the least. The biggest first round gap ever to be made up was nine strokes, so it is possible for the likes of Spieth, Woods, Phil, and Bubba, but the task at hand is going to be very tough. Not only will they have to play exceptional golf, but they will also have to hope that the players in front of them- including Dustin Johnson- simply make mistakes. And Johnson, assuming the course were to get easier, is not expected to let up very much and should score just as well- if not better- than those guys.

So this year’s US Open might just be about Dustin Johnson versus everyone else. Of those toward the top, only one man, Jason Dufner, has any experience in a big spot like this like Johnson does. There are also some strong players over par, but still in close, like Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, so those two, among others, could have a say in the final outcome. But for those mentioned to no longer have a shot, they might struggle just to make the cut given the nature of this year’s course!

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