Rory McIlroy happy with first round at US Open despite flashes of frustration

Rory McIlroy made no apologies for showing flashes of frustration even as he got off to a terrific start to his bid for a fifth major title at the 122nd US Open.

McIlroy hit a three-under 67 at Brookline to share the early clubhouse lead with Callum Tarren of England, David Lingmerth of Sweden and Joel Dahmen of the United States, with defending champion Jon Rahm returning a 69.

A month after an opening 65 at the US PGA, it was another welcome start to a major for McIlroy after earlier troubles, but he was not without incident when he hit a stick into a bunker and dropped another down the road. fairway on his last hole. .

Rory McIlroy hits his second shot on the fifth hole during the first round of the US Open (Charles Krupa/AP)

After starting from 10th, McIlroy had covered his first 13 holes at 2-under before a pushed tee shot on the fifth ended in thick rough on the edge of a bunker and left him scrambling for position in the sand. , With the ball. high above his feet.

From there, McIlroy was only able to sink his second shot into another bunker a few yards in front of him, prompting a furious reaction that saw him slam his club into the sand twice.

“You’re going to run into things at a US Open that you really don’t run into any other week,” said McIlroy, whose mood was not helped by the slow pace of the group in front of him, Hideki Matsuyama and Xander Schauffele. .

“It’s hard not to get frustrated because I’m walking there like I’m going back to the bunker. The thickest rough on the course is found around the edges of the bunkers.

“So I was cursing the USGA every time I got close to the ball, but it’s one of those things. It happens here, it doesn’t really happen anywhere else. You just have to accept it.

“I took a couple of hits to the sand because I had already messed it up, so it wasn’t much more work for Harry (Diamond, his caddy), and then I reset and played a decent bunker shot, and then it was really nice to hole that putt (pair).

Having saved par on the fifth, McIlroy birdied the seventh and eighth to take the outright lead, only to drop his only shot of the day on the ninth after missing the green with his approach.

That sparked the club’s release and McIlroy added: “The margins are very good in this tournament, and I think you can see it with some of the reactions.

“Once I played our first nine at two under par, the goal was to try to play this round without bogey. I did that for 17 holes, which was great, and then I was kind of on the fence about what shot to take on the second shot of the nine and I missed the green where you just can’t miss.

“I haven’t done that all day. If I missed, I missed the right spot, I played the thick part of the greens, and that’s why I got frustrated, because you miss to the left, it’s a pretty simple up and down. You make par, you keep going.

“But it’s okay. It’s something to learn from. (I’m) sitting here talking about the bad stuff when 17 of the holes were really good. I’m happy with the start.”

callum tarren

Callum Tarren putts on the ninth hole during the first round of the US Open (Charlie Riedel/AP)

Tarren, ranked 445th in the world, scored an eagle, three birdies and two bogeys in his 67, the 31-year-old from Darlington admitted his presence at the top of the rankings had come as a shock.

“I’m pinching myself a little bit because I didn’t realize my name was at the top of the leaderboard until I made the last putt,” Tarren said. “Just excited about my start, and let’s see what the next few days hold.”

Rahm birdied the last to complete an eventful 69 that included two young spectators running with their ball on the 18th and a series of unusually bad approach shots.

“There were about five iron shots that I hit completely,” Rahm said. “I’m not too worried.

“I think a lot of it was a little bit of indecision and hesitation in my mind because we weren’t exactly sure where the wind was coming from and we didn’t commit 100 percent of the time to the shot.”

Among the later starters, England’s Matt Fitzpatrick chipped in for a brilliant birdie on the 12th to get to three under par, a shot from the lead now held by Canada’s Adam Hadwin, who had seven holes to play.

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