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10 biggest highlights and lowlights from Round 1 of U.S. Open

Dustin Johnson in Round 1 of the U.S. Open

To say that the first round of the U.S. Open was a challenge is like saying that water is wet. Shinnecock Hills was merciless. Heck, even the flagsticks were unforgiving.

The day at Shinnecock Hills provided many lowlights. But as bad as things were, there were highlights to be found, as well.

These were the most notable from each category.

Dustin Johnson shows why he’s No. 1 in the world

Shinnecock Hills beat up many of the world’s top players on Thursday. But the top-ranked player in the world, Dustin Johnson, was not one of them.

He had some eye-popping shots, notably his hole-out from a greenside bunker on the eighth hole for birdie. But really, Johnson was just a model of consistency.

He definitely had his struggles on Thursday, but DJ avoided the disaster. More often than not, that’s the most important step to winning a U.S. Open.

Featured groups have forgettable rounds

Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy have a combined 16 major victories. They are six of the best golfers in the world. But with those six paired off in two different groups, they didn’t look like it.

Shinnecock Hills was tough. We knew that it would be going in. Even still, these six players shooting a combined 46-over caught us by surprise.

That’s six of the best golfers in the world at 46-over par. We knew that Shinnecock would be tough. Even still, that caught us by surprise.

Firefighter plays with the big boys

There may not be a better story at Shinnecock Hills that Matt Parziale. The firefighter from Brockton, Massachusetts qualified for the U.S. Open.

Truthfully, just getting in was a great story. But Parziale brought his game on Thursday.

Anything can happen on Friday. But as things stand now, Parziale is in great position to make the cut and maybe even have a nice finish for himself.

Scott Gregory makes wrong kind of history

In no way was Gregory the only golfer who struggled. We know that.

Even so, his round went to a different level. Gregory’s score wasn’t only the worst of Thursday, but it was the worst score recorded at a U.S. Open in nearly three decades.

Gregory’s first U.S. Open in 2017 resulted in a missed cut. His second trip didn’t start any better.

Second times a charm for Ian Poulter at Shinnecock

Poulter first teed it up at a U.S. Open in 2004 at Shinnecock Hills. Things did not go well for Poulter, who missed the cut.

On Thursday, things went better. Johnson got out early, fired a one-under 69, and is tied for the lead.

Poulter has never won a major. Thursday’s performance won’t change that, but it’s definitely the start that he needs if he’s going to claim that elusive victory on Sunday.

Rory McIlroy has one of his worst rounds… ever

McIlroy has had better days on the golf course. In fact, McIlroy has had a better day nearly every other time he’s teed it up.

McIlroy is the kind of golfer who can shrink the field when he’s on. We probably only need one hand to count the number of golfers who can hang with McIlroy’s A-game. But unless he has an otherworldly day on Friday, he won’t even be around for the weekend.

Russell Henley and Scott Piercy are surprising co-leaders

Nobody is surprised to see DJ atop the leaderboard. Poulter is a little more surprising, but he’s still a big name. But their co-leaders, Henley and Piercy are certainly surprising.

Piercy only made the field as an alternate.

He’s taking advantage of the opportunity.

Henley, Piercy, Johnson, and Poulter head into Friday as the only golfers under par.

Martin Kaymer bites the dust

Kaymer is a former No. 1 in the world. Heck, only four years ago, he claimed one of the least competitive U.S. Open wins ever, winning by eight shots.

He was not the only big name to struggle on Thursday. More will certainly struggle through the rest of the week.

But given Kaymer’s track record, a 13-over 83 stands out quite a bit.

Justin Thomas hangs around

Thomas couldn’t quite keep up with playing competitor Dustin Johnson on Thursday. But he did hit some good shots.

Thomas will still need a good day on Friday to really be in contention over the weekend.

But thanks to great shots like that one, he’s only four-over and five shots back. Thomas certainly looms on the board.

Dismal start dooms Tiger Woods

If Tiger could have called his U.S. Open off after the opening tee shot, he would have been in good shape.

But he had to play the rest of the hole. That’s where things went horribly awry. Tiger walked off of the first green with a triple-bogey. From that point on, Woods made two more bogeys, two double-bogeys, and only one birdie.

Who knows what would have happened if he had hit his first approach shot onto the green and walked away with a par? What we do know is that Tiger has a lot of work to do on Friday if he’s going to play the weekend.