Update: 22 minutes after Fowler posted his 62, Xander Schauffele matched him.
He’s not wearing orange, the signature whip in his swing is gone and his flowing locks are kept high and tight these days, but Rickie Fowler looked like the Rickie Fowler of old Thursday.
Highlighted by four straight birdies midway through his round, Fowler fired an eight-under 62, breaking the U.S. Open single-round record on his way to the early Round 1 lead in this year’s championship at Los Angeles Country Club. It also ties Branden Grace’s 62 at the 2017 Open Championship for the lowest round in major championship history.
Fowler’s 62 also breaks a record he shared for the lowest opening round in a U.S. Open.
Starting on the back nine, Fowler was two under through his first eight holes, despite making two bogeys on what most consider the harder of the two nines at LACC. He then turned it on by drilling a 16-foot birdie putt on 18 and birding the first three holes on the front side.
When his birdie putt on the 8th found the bottom of the cup, he also set the record for most birdies in a U.S. Open round with his 10th.
All parts of his game were humming, as he was second in the early wave in strokes gained: tee-to-green and first in putting. Fowler, who was known for his prowess on the greens early in his career, last led a PGA Tour event in putting at the 2019 WM Phoenix Open, which was also his last victory.
It’s been a resurgent year of sorts for Fowler, 34, after he missed the U.S. Open the last two years and fell as far as No. 185 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He lead through 54 holes at the Zozo Championship last fall before finishing T2. Racking up six top-10s this season has catapulted him back into the top 50 in the world at No. 45.
Before his recent struggles, Fowler was widely viewed as one of the best players on the PGA Tour without a major championship. He collected five wins between 2012 and 2019, including the 2015 Players Championship, and became only the third golfer to record a T5 or better in all four majors in 2014.