OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) — Andrew Landry needed only one shot Friday to set an Oakmont record and lead the U.S. Open in a rain-delayed opening round that lasted more than 32 hours.
Dustin Johnson needed only one round to get right back in the mix.
Landry warmed up by hitting about 50 putts, then finished his round with a 10-foot birdie for a 4-under 66, giving him a one-shot lead over Lee Westwood and Dustin Johnson. It was the lowest opening round in 10 majors at Oakmont, breaking the mark of Ben Hogan in the 1953 U.S. Open and Tom Watson in the 1978 PGA Championship.
“History is history,” Landry said. “I’m just playing golf.”
It was the first time in 30 years that a U.S. Open rookie had the sole lead after the opening round.
Landry, a 28-year-old qualifier ranked No. 624, was long gone when Johnson went to work. Johnson, the heartbreak story from Chambers Bay when he lost the U.S. Open with a three-putt from 12 feet on the final hole, played bogey-free on an Oakmont course still soft from nearly 3 inches of rain.
“It’s still playing tough,” Johnson said.
The numbers would suggest otherwise, at least for an opening round. Even par looked out of reach during practice rounds on a course that was firm and fiery. Lush and wet, Oakmont yielded 11 rounds in the 60s. That matches the number of first-round scores in the 60s from the previous four U.S. Opens combined at Oakmont.
Westwood finished with two birdies for a 67, his lowest start in a U.S. Open and only the third time in 17 appearances he has opened with a round under par.
“It was good, one of the best starts I’ve ever had,” Westwood said. “I felt confident out there and hit a lot of good shots. I was shaping it both ways, which you need to do in U.S. Opens to get at a lot of the flags.”
Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry and Scott Piercy each shot 68.
Oakmont still managed to do a number on Jason Day and Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson.
Day, the world’s No. 1 player, went bunker-to-bunker on his way to a triple bogey on No. 7 and walked off with only one birdie and a 6-over 76. It was a shocking start for Day, who was in danger of missing the cut with little time to regain his composure.
Because of the three rain delays Thursday, the U.S. Open was trying to make up for lost time.
Day, Johnson and their half of the field headed out for the second round Friday afternoon, meaning most would be playing 36 holes in one day. Landry played only one shot — with his putter — and would not play again until Saturday.
Even so, there was a clear advantage for those who first faced Oakmont on Friday morning when the rain was gone — there were no interruptions and the course remained soft by Oakmont standards.
The average score for the first half of the draw, which started Thursday morning, was 75.22. That was nearly two shots harder than the second half of the draw. And while 16 players shot par or better, the casualties to par were plenty — and prominent.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth wasn’t too troubled by making only one birdie in his round of 72, especially compared with others.
“I didn’t shoot myself out of it,” Spieth said. “I’m not really sure how my score stands right now, but I know that at the end of the day, the USGA is going to try to have even par win the golf tournament, and I know that I can shoot 2 under in the remaining 54 holes no matter how the course plays. I know I’m capable of it. I’m in it.”
The road back is much longer for Masters champion Danny Willett, McIlroy and Fowler. They played in the same group and were a combined 18-over par. Willett had a 75, Fowler a 76 and McIlroy made bogey on five of his last six holes for a 77. McIlroy matched his highest U.S. Open score.
Mickelson, who needs the U.S. Open title to complete the career Grand Slam, was 1 under when he made the turn. He shot 40 on the front nine for a 74.
The surprise was Landry, who had to go through 18 holes of local qualifying and 36 holes of sectional qualifying to get into his first U.S. Open.
“I told myself so many times over the years in my life that if I get into the U.S. Open … I’ll be able to make it. I’ll be able to do fine,” Landry said. “I think the U.S. Open just suits my game so well that I’m just able to manage these things.”