The Latest: Traffic nightmare averted, at least for players
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) The Latest on the U.S. Open's first round Thursday (all times local):
The last golfers have teed off for the first round of the U.S. Open, and that means tournament organizers have avoided the nightmare traffic scenario that had been feared earlier in the week.
With the 15-mile trip from the official players' hotel to Shinnecock Hills taking two to three hours during the practice rounds, the USGA warned players to leave extra early for the course. A golfer who is late for his tee time is disqualified, and traffic is no excuse.
There was an accident that brought the roads just west of the course to a halt early in the afternoon - too late to affect the players but a problem for late-arriving fans. The USGA said both lanes were blocked and advised media to skip the 2 p.m. shuttle.
Tiger Woods' quest for his first major championship victory since 2008 got off to a rough start with a triple bogey on the first hole at the U.S. Open.
Woods' second shot on the par-4, 399-yard No. 1 at Shinnecock Hills flew over the green. His chip shot hit the green and rolled back off. He did the same thing with his putter on his fourth shot, then reached the green on his fifth before two-putting.
Woods followed that up with a bogey on the par-3 second hole.
He made par on the third.
Twenty-three-year-old Scott Gregory thinks he was just a kid the last time he shot in the 90s.
"It's been a long time," he said after shooting a 22-over 92 on Thursday to take a stranglehold on last place early on in the U.S. Open. "It's not the week I wanted to revisit it."
Although the 2016 British Amateur champion was in one of the earliest groups, there was no one within nine strokes of him on the leaderboard as the afternoon threesomes began to tee off.
His advice for those not yet out on the course: "You can't miss it long, short, left or right. If you hit it in the middle, you're all right."
Still, it wasn't all bad for Gregory, who missed the cut in last year's U.S. Open.
He got to meet Tiger Woods.
"I've been waiting for that picture for 15 years," he said. "So it's quite a big deal."
Early leader Scott Piercy cut short a practice round at Shinnecock Hills after losing five balls in four holes and used pictures he had posted on Instagram to see what was wrong with his swing.
He came back out for the opening round on Thursday and shot a 1-under 69 to move to the top of the leaderboard in the morning, when he was one of just a couple of players under par.
Piercy said he lowered his expectations after the tough practice round.
"You've got to ride the wave, figure out when you're at the bottom of the wave how to get back to the top," he said. "Last night was a big regroup for me."
The thrill of playing in the U.S. Open was gone quickly for Scott Gregory.
Shinnecock Hills made sure of that.
The 23-year-old Englishman was among the first to finish his opening round, and he probably couldn't get away from the course quick enough. Gregory shot 92, 22 over par, with only three pars in the round.
The worst hole for the new pro - the 2016 British Amateur champ missed the cut in last year's U.S. Open while still an amateur - was the par-5 fifth. Although the fifth was playing easier than any other hole in the first round, Gregory had a 7 there.
In one stretch, Gregory double-bogeyed three straight holes.
He perhaps could take some solace in the fact that only two players were under par when he finished.
This item has been corrected to show that Gregory shot 22, not 20, over par.
While most of Shinnecock Hills has been brutal early in the first round of the U.S. Open, the par-5 fifth has brought plenty of red numbers.
That includes eagles by Matt Fitzpatrick of England and Calum Hill of Scotland, who conquered the 589-yard hole with 3s. There were 20 birdies and 26 pars in morning rounds at the hole.
Two of the early leaders - Matt Kuchar and Scott Piercy - birdied the fifth.
But, as Shinnecock Hills often does, the course bit back at two players. Amateur Doug Ghim scored a 7 on the fifth, as did Scott Gregory.
Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth already are falling behind in the U.S. Open.
The marquee threesome of the morning was a collective 15-over par through nine holes, and then McIlroy double-bogeyed the first hole, his 10th on the round. Through nine holes, McIlroy was 7 over, while Spieth and Mickelson were both 4 over.
In comparison, the early leaders were at 2 under.
Spieth actually played well except for messing up the par-3 11th, considered one of the toughest holes at Shinnecock Hills. His pitch shot onto the green sat on a crest and as Spieth hustled up to mark it, the ball rolled back down to where he shot it. He wound up with a triple-bogey 6.
But he played even par for the rest of his opening nine, then bogeyed the first.
McIlroy had three double bogeys through 10 holes: on 13th and 14th after teeing off on the back nine, and then on No. 1. It's his first round as a pro that the four-time major winner has had three double bogeys.
Scott Piercy got into the U.S. Open as an alternate from Tennessee qualifying. He is making the most of his chance early in the tournament.
Piercy is 1-under par through 14 holes, offsetting bogeys at Nos. 2 and 11 with birdies on the 10th and 12th holes. He is playing in the first group to tee off.
Piercy, in his 10th season on the PGA Tour, has four career victories, including winning the team event with Billy Horschel in New Orleans this spring. He tied for second in the 2016 U.S. Open.
Three veteran golfers chasing their first major victory are off to strong starts at the U.S. Open.
Matt Kuchar, who has been close in major events several times in his 18 years as a professional, birdied the first and fifth holes.
Ian Poulter, whose best U.S. Open finish is 12th in 2006, birdied the fourth and seventh holes to join Kuchar at 2 under. The Englishman has been a pro since 1994.
The 41-year-old Charley Hoffman finished eighth in last year's tournament and was 12th at this season's Masters. He started on the back nine and birdied Nos. 10 and 13.
Masters champion Patrick Reed is off to an up-and-down start to his first round of the U.S. Open.
Reed, who won his first major title in April, started on the back nine and birdied the 10th and 11th holes. He immediately followed with a bogy, then had another bogey at No. 14 to stand at even par.
His playing partners, Zach Johnson and Charl Schwartzel, both major winners, aren't doing quite so well. Johnson is 2 over and Schwartzel is 3 over.
It's been a rough go early at the U.S. Open for Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy. All three multiple major winners were finding Shinnecock Hills very difficult in the first round.
Mickelson, seeking to complete a career Grand Slam with a win at the U.S. Open, was 3-over par through five holes. Playing partners Spieth, owner of three major titles, was 5 over in the same marquee threesome, and McIlroy, who has four major championships, was 6 over in that group.
Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen and Zach Johnson, all major winners, were over par through a handful of holes.
But defending champion Brooks Koepka was one of the few under par, 1 under through five after a birdie at the opening hole.
The U.S. Open has begun on a century-old golf course with a new look.
Harold Varner hit the opening tee shot on a gorgeous Thursday morning at Shinnecock Hills, using a fairway metal to hit a fairway that was some 60 yards wide in the landing zone. He still watched it anxiously, only because a marshal unaware the U.S. Open had started ambled across the fairway, and broke into a sprint when he heard the ball land near him.
Scott Piercy and Matthieu Pavon of France also found the short grass - Piercy in the first fairway, Pavon so far right that it cleared the knee-high fescue and landed on the ninth hole.
The fairways are 15 yards wider on average than the 2004 U.S. Open at Shinnecock.
Updated June 14, 2018