Justin Thomas leads at Winged Foot and what else you need to know after Round 1

Justin Thomas hits his tee shot on the 12th hole at Winged Foot Golf Club on Thursday.

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The leader said he loved Winged Foot Golf Club before the tournament even started. “It’s probably one of my favorites I’ve ever played, to be honest,” he said. “It’s hard, so it’s a different kind of fun, but it is fun. It’s all right in front of you. It’s nothing tricky, nothing crazy. Yeah, you need to play well and have control of your golf ball, otherwise you’re going to get pretty exposed.” Winged Foot loved him (and a few others) right back. Here are three things you need to know after Thursday’s first round of the U.S. Open in Mamaronek, N.Y. 

Justin Thomas leads 

Thomas played well. He controlled his golf ball. He wasn’t exposed. As he said he needed to do.

Thomas birdied his first hole. He added birdies at holes 6, 9, 10, 11 and 18 and finished with a five-under 65 — the lowest round ever in a U.S. Open at Winged Foot — and holds a one-shot lead over Patrick Reed, Thomas Pieters and Matthew Wolff.

“It was a good day for me from the start,” Thomas said. “I’ve just played really, really solidly. Hit a lot of really quality tee shots. Only had a few squirrely ones, it felt like. The few greens I missed, I hit great bunker shots to give myself good par chances. Yeah, it was a really, really solid round of golf. It’s one of the best rounds I’ve played in a while tee to green. 

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“There are a couple things here and there that definitely could have been better, but I made sure all of my misses were in the right spot, and that’s what you have to do at a U.S. Open.”

Scores are lower than expected

Thomas wasn’t the only one to find the Foot friendly. 

Before the tournament, there was talk of the difficult length. There was talk of the difficult greens. There was talk of the difficult rough. After the first round, there were 32 players at even par or better.

Reed, who aced the par-3 7th, Pieters and Wolff are all one back. Two strokes back, at three under, are Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen. Six players are at two under, and eight players are at one under.   

Tiger Woods has work to do

Tiger Woods started poorly. He ended poorly. He was perfect in between. Woods bogeyed holes 4, 5 and 8. He bogeyed holes 13, 14 and 17 and double bogeyed 18. He birdied holes 6, 9, 10, 11 and 16 — and nearly the 12th, which would have been his fourth straight. 

In all, he finished with a three-over 73

Woods hit 6 of 14 fairways and 9 of 18 greens in regulation. He ranked 10th in Strokes Gained: Putting (+2.64), but 112th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (-0.76).

“I did not finish off the round like I needed to,” Woods said. “I made a bunch of putts in the middle part of the round. It seemed like most of my drives on the front nine landed in the fairway and ended up in bad spots, and I tried to stay as patient as possible, and unfortunately just did not finish off my round the way I needed to.”

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.