America’s heartland debuted its first U.S. Open course today in Wisconsin. Erin Hills, the course that was built for this moment, was a gracious hostess. To the delight of the fans and golfers, she offered birdies galore.

Many familiar names occupy rungs of the leaderboard. From our seat in the gallery, we saw a lot, but we’ll keep it to the five things we learned on Day 1 of the 2017 U.S. Open.

1. Dick Fowler, P.I., Wants His Major Title Now

Rickie Fowler (aka Dick Fowler, P.I., from the early Farmers Insurance commercials), is so over the other guys (Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson) winning majors before him. He wants his Open, now!

On Thursday, Fowler hit the Erin Hills course in a marquee morning threesome with Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama, and he zipped seven birdies into his suitcase. His 65 held the lead all day, and it gave him a one-shot cushion over Paul Casey heading into Friday’s afternoon round.

2. Xander Schauffele Is This Year’s Andrew Landry

Without a doubt, the only German-French-Japanese-Taiwanese golfer in the field at Erin Hills is this year’s outta-nowhere guy. In 2016 at Oakmont, it was Andrew Landry, who led for not just one, not just two, but three rounds before finishing in a tie for 15th place.

Schauffele was a mildly-decorated amateur golfer before his only year on the Tour in 2016. He earned his promotion in the tour playoffs, but he played Round 1 at Erin Hills like a wiser sage. The Californian stood at 2-under as he turned to his second nine, the front.

He played error-free golf there as well, adding four more birdies to tie Casey, one back of Fowler. Last year I swore up and down that Landry would not win, and he almost proved me wrong. I’ll say the same about Schauffele, and I hope that he sticks around even longer.

3. Birdie Runs Are Out There… Just Ask Adam Hadwin

Six loonies in a row for Adam Hadwin, the 2017 Valspar Champion, on Day 1 of the U.S. Open. Hadwin’s second to the par-4 5th hole was two rotations from an eagle. Although his run ended with a bogey at No. 6 (Hadwin began his round on the back nine), he recorded his seventh birdie of the day on No. 8 to return to 4-under.

4. Erin Hills Is No Pushover

Despite the low numbers (more than 40 golfers broke par on Day 1), the course did not play easily for everyone. Waaaaay down the leader board, somewhere between amateurs Scott Harvey (6-over) and Walker Lee (9-over) were (gasp) Rory McIlroy at 6-over and Jason Day at 8-over.

Day’s round was one of unbelievable inconsistency. After opening with birdie at the first, he tripled No. 4 and birdied No. 7. Not terrible, plenty of holes left. Then came three bogeys and another triple over the next four holes.

Like Day, McIlroy started well. He drove the green at the par-4, second hole and drained a long putt for eagle to reach 2-under. Two bogeys on the outward nine, followed by two more on the early holes of the inward half, made his predicament tricky. His unfortunate response was doubles on Nos. 15 and 17 to lose all contact with the leaders. Oh, Billy Horschel joined them at 7-over after opening his round with a quadruple-bogey 9.

5. Sergio Garcia May Finally Have The Patience For Majors

Yet another golfer who started strong (an eagle at No. 1), Garcia made three bogeys in the middle of his round. Pre-Masters title, Sergio might have cited the wrath of hobgoblins and leprechauns, but the major-champion Sergio is different. The Spaniard birdied two of his final four holes to finish in red numbers at 2-under.

Golf needs a late-30s Garcia to go on a Mickelson-like, Hoganesque run in the majors. He is the epitome of the late bloomer, despite blooming early at different levels of expertise. And wins at the first two majors of 2017 would certainly make the jobs of golf’s pundits a lot more interesting!

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Ronald Montesano writes for from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.


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  1. I find it hard to believe Rory said his poor driving Thur was cause of a little rust are you kidding me? He said he had played 8-9 rounds lately. Maybe he’s just not the awesome driver that everyone touts him to be. He should never have left Titleist in my opinion. So much for 60yd fairways huh?

  2. Nice work Ronald. Personally I love having the US open back. Set up went missing for a few years and I think some guys forgot how to take medicine and get back in play. Bring on more today !

    Ps. Hadwin may have 3 jiggled to break his birdie streak but you have to love the run he put on the birdie effort from downtown trying to make it 7 in a row – love it

  3. and the pros were all complaining about how tough the course was and the rough was too high. keep it in the wide (by tour standards) fairways as you can easily shoot in the 60’s