By Tyler Ruby on June 12, 2014
The U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst No. 2 for the first time since 2005, and it features a different layout. It's longer, and the thick rough was removed. That showed in the scores as the course yielded lower scores than a U.S. Open typically does. With that being said, what and who were the 5 biggest surprises of Day 1 at Pinehurst?
Rickie Fowler certainly gained some more fans today both young and old as he sported knickers and argyle socks paying homage to the late Payne Stewart, Fowler's favorite player growing up. It was a bold fashion move, but maybe good karma followed as he shot an even par 70. Who knows, maybe Fowler can play with some of Payne Stewart's magic to win his first major.
It's always fun to see how amateurs play and deal with elements at the U.S. Open. This year, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Oliver Goss often saw their names on the first two pages of the leaderboard. They both shot a one-over 71 to sit six strokes back of the leader, but it was a solid first round for both competitors.
Kevin Na already has three finishes in the top three this year, so it shouldn't be shocking to see him toward the front of the leaderboard. But it will be interesting to see if he stays there considering all the problems he has had in the past with his nerves, often getting the "yips." But after shooting a 68 in the opening round, he is in good position to contend.
It was an unusual day at Pinehurst as the overall scoring average was 73.22, one of the lowest in recent memory. At the end of Round 1, there are 35 players at even par or lower. I wouldn't expect it to stay that way as I would assume the USGA will let the course dry out to make the fairways and greens even harder.
The story of Day 1 was Martin Kaymer. The Players champion shot and opening-round 65, tying the lowest round ever shot at Pinehurst. He sits with a three-stroke lead over the group of four at 2-under. He certainly has the length and ball-striking to keep the course at bay, and if his putter stays hot, he could potentially run away with this thing for his second career major.
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