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England’s Rose equals Woods record to seize US Open lead
Published on: Saturday, June 15, 2019
By: AFP

PEBBLE BEACH: Justin Rose roared home with three straight birdies to match Tiger Woods’ record for the lowest US Open round ever shot at Pebble Beach, a six-under par 65 that gave him a one-shot lead after the first round on Thursday.

England’s Rose, who won the 2013 US Open at Merion, vaulted over a quartet of players sharing second on five-under-par 66 as Pebble Beach showed a welcoming face in cool, overcast conditions with little wind.

Americans Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele and South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Aaron Wise were in the clubhouse on 66 when Rose stormed home.

“It was amazing,” said Rose, who rolled in a 10-footer for birdie at the 16th and drained a 26-footer for birdie at the par-three 17th.

He took sole possession of the lead at the last, blasting out of a greenside bunker and draining an 11-foot birdie putt.

Knowing he had equalled the 65 shot by Woods in the first round on the way to his crushing 15-shot US Open triumph at Pebble Beach in 2000, Rose gave a restrained fist pump.

“I was thinking, ‘This would be kind of cool doing it front of the great man himself,’” said Rose, who played alongside Woods and Jordan Spieth.

Woods produced an outstanding performance on the greens as he scrambled to a one-under par 70.

Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka headed a group on two-under 69.

Scott Piercy teed off before 7am and quickly showed that Pebble Beach was there for the taking, moving as low as five-under before finishing on four-under 67. He was joined there in a tie for sixth by fellow American Nate Lashley.

Reigning British Open champion Francesco Molinari and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy were among a group of eight players on three-under 68.

That group also included Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who birdied four straight coming in, Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, and Americans Sepp Straka, Gary Woodland, Chez Reavie and Chesson Hadley.

After the US Golf Association was stung by criticism over course conditions at last year’s US Open at wind-dried Shinnecock Hills, Pebble Beach’s small, slanting greens were moist and receptive.

“The putting surfaces are as good as I’ve seen them,” said Koepka, although he and the rest of the field fully expect them to firm up as the week goes on as the USGA gets stingier with the water.

On Thursday, however, 39 players were under par, and 17 eagles were the most in a US Open in 50 years.

Along with Rose, currently ranked fourth in the world, four other major-winners featured in the top 15: Oosthuizen, Stenson, McIlroy and Molinari.

Koepka—who has won four majors in less than two years and can become just the second player to win three straight US Opens and the first in more than a century—was among a dozen players on 69.

He applied pressure on the leaders as he raced to four-under through six holes. 

He followed a bogey at eight with a birdie at 12, but was three-under after a bogey at 13 and dropped a shot from a greenside bunker at the par-three 17th.

His tee shot at 18 found an asphalt cart path, but he hit his second shot off the deck on the way to a par, missing a four-foot birdie putt.

“I would have liked to have shot a couple more (under par),” Koepka said.  “But considering how I hit it coming in, I’m pretty pleased. Two-under, I didn’t shoot myself out of it. I’m right there.”

Woods, who captured his 15th major title at the Masters in April to cement his return in the wake of spinal fusion surgery, followed his first birdie at the fourth with a double-bogey at the par-three fifth, where his tee shot bounced off a cart path into deep rough. He rebounded with back-to-back birdies, then parred his last 11 holes.

He drained a 30-footer to save par at the 14th after his second shot landed in dense rough. He needed just 25 putts on the round.

“I was just trying to hang in there,” Woods said. – AFP 



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