Adam Hadwin may sit on top of the leaderboard after 18 holes at the U.S. Open, but he’s far from in control of the major championship.
Thursday’s opening round at The Country Club did little to separate the pack, as plenty of the sports’ biggest names are just a few shots off Hadwin’s lead at most.
Though plenty can still change outside Boston with 54 holes left to play, fans should be in for an entertaining weekend if Thursday is any indication.
Hadwin posted a 66 to take the solo lead after a flurry of birdies on the front side pushed him to the front of the pack. The 34-year-old Canadian made five birdies in his final six holes of the front nine, which got him to 4-under for the tournament. He birdied No. 13 with a deep putt, which offset an early bogey, to ride out even on the back and close out his day with the one-shot lead.
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Hadwin, who made it in the field as an alternate, is now the first Canadian to hold at least a share of the lead after 18 holes since Mike Weir did so in 2009, and one of just four in the event’s history. His 66 also marked a career-best for him in 63 major championship rounds.
“It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?” Hadwin said on NBC. “It was a lot of fun, and you don’t get to say that a lot at the U.S. Open, either.”
Hadwin has just one win on the PGA Tour, back at the 2017 Valspar Championship, and he’s yet to finish inside the top-20 at a major. Hadwin, who entered the week ranked No. 105 in the world, has four top-10 finishes so far this season on Tour — most notably at The Players Championship.
Rory McIlroy led the early morning wave on Thursday, and took the initial lead at 3-under. McIlroy, who won last week at the RBC Canadian Open, bogeyed his final hole to drop him into a share of the lead at the time with plenty of others. McIlroy has been great at majors this season, taking a second place finish at The Masters and an eighth place finish at the PGA Championship, but he hasn’t won one in nearly eight years.
McIlroy is tied with five others in second, including Korn Ferry Tour member MJ Daffue. Daffue, who earned his PGA Tour card for next season just last month through the Tour’s developmental league, joined McIlroy with a 67 to kick off his first major championship.
Joel Dahmen, David Lingmerth, and Callum Tarren are also at 3-under.
Dustin Johnson leads the seven golfers sitting at 2-under after Thursday following his move to join the LIV Golf Invitational Series last week. Matt Fitzpatrick, Aaron Wise and Brian Harman are right with him, as is Justin Rose — who made five birdies on his front nine with three bogeys. Rose nearly shot a 59 in the final round of the RBC Canadian Open last week while making seven birdies and three eagles on Sunday.
What about the LIV golfers?
Thursday was not kind to the LIV Golf members.
There were 15 golfers in the field this week who either have already played in a LIV event or are planning to in the coming weeks. Only two of them even finished under par.
Johnson is in the best position among the group, as he finished with a 68 to get to 2-under. James Piot went 1-under, and Patrick Reed was close behind him at even on the day while Bryson DeChambeau finished at 1-over. Reed and DeChambeau are planning to make their LIV debuts in Portland later this month.
The worst among the notable names were Louis Oosthuizen and Phil Mickelson. Those two went a combined 15-over, and will need a tremendous rally on Friday to make it into the weekend. Only Jed Morgan was worse with his 12-over.
In total, the group went 57-over par.