Tour Confidential: Round 1 surprises from the U.S. Open at Pinehurst

Scottie Scheffler reacts to a shot at the U.S. Open.

Scottie Scheffler's poor opening round was a surprise on Thursday at Pinehurst.

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

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Round 1 of the 2024 U.S. Open was challenging, but plenty of big-name players — like co-leaders Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay, who tied the U.S. Open record at Pinehurst No. 2 with a 65 — went low. They’re being chased by Ludvig Aberg, who shot 66 in his U.S. Open debut, and a host of other pros further back. With that, what was the most surprising storyline from the opening round at Pinehurst?

Josh Berhow, managing editor, (@Josh_Berhow): Scottie Scheffler and Xander Schauffele — two big pro-tournament favorites — did not play well at all… and they are still very much in it! Scottie was two over through six and got in at one over, so he’s just six back, which is manageable. He looked lost on the green at times. And Xander drove it all over the planet and still shot 70. He’s five off the lead. So if these were just one-round hiccups for those two, they escaped Thursday without too much damage. But they still have work to do.

Alan Bastable, executive editor (@alan_bastable): Scottie Scheffler six back at any point in any tournament is a surprise, but the real stunner has to be Matthieu Pavon’s three-under 67. Just ask him. “I’ve been crushed by the few last golf courses,” he said after his round. “I played terrible at Quail Hollow. I played terrible at PGA. I played terrible at Memorial, too. These type of golf courses I’m not really — not saying ready, but I used to play like slightly easier golf courses back in Europe.” Nothing easy about No. 2.

Ryan Barath, senior editor, equipment (@RDSBarath): I have to go with Ludvig Aberg — who is currently sitting in third place after round one. This is only his third major championship and it seems like the more demanding the test, the better he plays. With other more experienced players not reaching their potential today at Pinehurst (Justin Thomas for example shot a 7-over 77), it sure feels like Ludvig’s game shines when the going gets tough. If the USGA keeps ratcheting up the conditions heading into the weekend, I expect he could be fighting for the trophy come Sunday afternoon.

Josh Sens, senior writer(@JoshSens): As I type this, Viktor Hovland is eight-over through 17 holes. Raise your hand if you saw that coming. I did not.

Bryson DeChambeau of the United States during the first round of the 124th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resor
Bryson DeChambeau loses key asset at U.S. Open. But still finds his way
By: Alan Bastable

Jessica Marksbury, senior editor (@Jess_Marksbury): I’ll go with Bryson DeChambeau, who, at three under, appears to be picking up right where he left off, after contending all the way to the end at the PGA and finishing T6 at the Masters. In his prior PGA Tour life, Bryson always seemed a bit streaky. This year, he’s a consistent powerhouse on the game’s biggest stages, and an entertaining one at that. Great to see!

Zephyr Melton, assistant editor (@zephyrmelton): Brooks Koepka’s sloppy back nine was surprising to see. At the turn, he was three under and looked to be the man to beat early. But after three back-nine bogeys, he’s in the crowded group at even par. It’s not often Brooks falters once he’s seized the lead. It’ll be interesting to see how he responds tomorrow.

Dylan Dethier, senior editor (@dylan_dethier): Patrick Cantlay has not been playing particularly well by his standards and came in off a missed cut at the limited-field Memorial. And while his major record is fine, it’s unspectacular for a player of his caliber. I was surprised to see him put up the low round of the morning — and pleasantly surprised to see he and Rory McIlroy atop the board by day’s end. Let’s see that weekend pairing!

Jack Hirsh, assistant editor (@JR_HIRSHey): This is kind of a “hear me out” take, but it’s Rory McIlroy. Yes, yes I know, golf’s prodigal son, blah blah blah. I know his record of late in the U.S. Open first round and finishing in the top-10 each of the last five years, but it just seems like he’s too Jekyl and Hyde in majors. He was a non-factor at Augusta. He was basically a non-factor at Valhalla, where he won his last PGA. He played his way out of the Memorial on the weekend too. I just didn’t expect him to be in top form here. I was wrong as he played one of just two bogey-free rounds all day (surprised no one picked Sergio (the other bogey-free round) before me, but I had already written this before I thought of that). Now he’s given us all hope for a fifth major … Should be a good weekend for the bookies.

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