Johnson, Stenson lead early assault on par at U.S. Open

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – After Dustin Johnson wrapped up a 5-under 65 in the opening round of the U.S. Open, he was asked where this ballstriking masterpiece ranked among his best rounds of the year.

“Well, I’ve had a lot of good ones. I don’t know,” Johnson said. “I thought it was just a good, solid round of golf. I don’t know how to rank it. It was just good.”

Listening off to the side to Johnson’s answer was Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who matched the low score of the morning. Moments later, when it was his turn to meet the media and discuss his round, Stenson began by saying, “I want to rank it. It was good.”

And then he flashed a mischievous grin. “Good” doesn’t begin to describe how well Johnson and Stenson played as each posted his best round in a major championship, and they weren’t alone. All told, 14 players broke par at Chambers Bay Golf Course in the morning. It was a good day for marquee players including Patrick Reed (66), Matt Kuchar (67) and 2013 PGA champion Jason Dufner (68), all of whom took advantage of benign conditions and generous hole locations.

“We got perfect conditions, just a light breeze,” Stenson said. “I expected it to be easier today and tighten as we go along. The USGA can make this place as hard as they want to, especially if you get a bit of wind and start tucking those pins away and play it longer. That could be a real monster.”

But early on, Stenson said, he could still go on the attack, and he did, knocking approach shots within 5 feet on his first three holes and making birdie at four of his final five.

Reed, who advanced to the round of 32 in match play at the 2010 U.S. Amateur here at Chambers Bay, missed only three fairways and two greens and made six birdies while lamenting those that he left out there.

“I left six birdies dead in the center short today,” said Reed, who trailed Johnson and Stenson by one.

Johnson took advantage of his length off the tee, noting that on the diabolical 515-yard par-4 seventh hole that he could fly it over the corner. He made birdie there to become the first to climb to 6 under and had talk of a “63 watch,” which would’ve tied a U.S. Open record, stirring memories of Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Tom Weiskopf. But Johnson hooked a 6-iron on his final hole, the ninth, and made his lone bogey of the day.

“You can’t really overpower this golf course,” Johnson said. “It definitely is a second-shot course. Coming in with shorter irons helps to control your spin, control your ball. Today I did a good job of that.”

Attack is usually not a word uttered at the U.S. Open, but in the early goings at Chamber Bay, Reed and other big-name players found the course playable and rewarding good shots.

“I’m just sticking to my game plan and trying to attack the golf course,” Reed said.

Stenson echoed that sentiment.

“One day out of four done, and we’re right there with where we want to be,” Stenson said. “It’s still a long journey until Sunday afternoon.”

Show Hide