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US Open: Phil Mickelson suffers a first-round nightmare as Adam Hadwin takes a surprise lead

Playing on his 52nd birthday, Mickelson struggled for eight out of 78, with only seven players from the 156-player field scoring lower. The six-time major winner must finish in the top 60 at the close of Friday’s second round to avoid elimination.

Although the first players played under clear blue skies in Brookline, Massachusetts, the build-up to the 122nd edition of the major had been dominated by storm clouds from the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.
Backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the new league threatens to disrupt golf’s traditional format by offering huge sums of money for players to earn outside of established golf courses. Mickelson, one of 17 players suspended by the PGA Tour for participating in the venture, participated in the series’ inaugural event in London last week.
He faced another awkward news conference before the Major on Monday, fielding questions about criticism leveled at him and other golfers for joining the breakaway series of a coalition of families and survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

A 45-time PGA Tour winner, the US Open remains the only major to elude Mickelson, who has finished runner-up in the event a record six times. He made it to the first tee to the cheers of a large crowd gathered to watch.

However, the awkwardness from earlier in the week soon continued as Mickelson bogeyed three of the first five holes.

An excellent tee shot to the green on the ensuing par three looked poised to lift the American, before three disastrous putting attempts left Mickelson ultimately down to double bogey and five over par after just six holes.

Mickelson plays a shot from a bunker on the 15th hole.

Sandwiched between a bogey and a double bogey, a birdie on the 11th hole provided a brief respite, before five consecutive pars steadied the boat.

The cheers and cheers continued from the fans, but an exasperated grimace and a shake of the head after hitting an approach shot from the tall grass over the green and into the rough on the final hole epitomized Mickelson’s troubles, who eventually touched home plate to close out. spectrum.

Hadwin sets the pace

An impressive performance from Hadwin secured an early surprise leader, the Canadian with a four-under-par 66.

The 34-year-old, whose only PGA Tour victory came at the Valspar Championship in 2017, sank five birdies on the front nine before firing par in the second half of the course to preserve his one-shot lead. .

Hadwin plays his shot from the 16th hole.

Ranked 105th in the world, Hadwin showed no signs of nervousness as he topped the rankings.

“Surprisingly quite comfortable,” Hadwin told Sky Sports. “I was at ease, which was a nice feeling at a US Open because it doesn’t happen very often.

“Especially at a big event like this, it’s a little easy to get the mind racing once you see your name near the top of the leaderboard and you start playing well, but I did a great job of concentrating and concentrating. in every single shot.”

McIlroy excited among hunters

Rory McIlroy joined four golfers in the chasing pack on a 3-under 67, a bogey on the final hole that prevented the Northern Irishman from being co-lead and finishing with a flawless scorecard.

The four-time major winner got off to a good start, hitting two under par before suffering a nightmarish bunker-to-bunker hit on the fourteenth hole.

An angry reaction followed, but McIlroy rallied magnificently to save the pair. With successive birdies on the penultimate two holes, he looked set to finish with a flourish before an awkward approach shot on the final hole left the 33-year-old “slightly frustrated” despite a promising start.

McIlroy reacts after missing his par putt on the ninth green.

“Okay, it’s something to learn from,” McIlroy told reporters.

“Sitting here talking about the bad stuff when 17 of the holes were really good, I’m happy with the start.”

Seeking his first big win in eight years, McIlroy looked fired up throughout, with a missed drive shot on the final hole adding to his reaction four holes earlier. Asked about the change from his usual cool demeanor, McIlroy said it was necessary to vent his competitive anger from time to time.

US Open: McIlroy slams stick into sand after bunker-to-bunker nightmare, but miraculously saves par

“To remind yourself sometimes how much it means to you,” he explained.

“The margins are very good in this tournament, and I think you can see that with some of the reactions.”

PGA Tour rookie dazzles

McIlroy is tied with Sweden’s David Lingmerth, American Joel Dahmen, South Africa’s MJ Daffue and PGA Tour rookie Callum Tarren.

Ranked 445th in the world and coming in as a qualifier, the Englishman was one of the first to tee off and returned to the clubhouse as the early leader.

Tarren plays his shot off the sixth tee.

A brilliant front nine saw Tarren sink three birdies and an eagle on the eighth hole. The 31-year-old bogeyed in the 10th but settled for eight straight pairs to cap off a first round beyond even Tarren’s wildest dreams.

“I’m pinching myself,” Tarren told reporters. “I didn’t realize I was at the top of the rankings until I made the final putt on the 9th hole.

“Just excited about my start, and let’s see what the next few days hold.”

Reigning champion Jon Rahm is three shots behind Hadwin after shooting a 69, one behind, with American duo Colin Morikawa and Justin Thomas shooting the same marker.

Scottie Scheffler shot a par 70, the World No. 1 chasing his second major of the year after winning the green jacket at The Masters in April.

Friday’s second round is scheduled to begin with the first groups at 6:45 a.m. ET.

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