Harman quick off the blocks

16-06-2017
DH

The American world number 50 made the most of benign conditions at Erin Hills Golf Course to move to four under at the turn, one ahead of a group of three players which included compatriots Rickie Fowler and Charley Hoffman.

Harman, teeing off on the par-four 10th at the Wisconsin course, rattled off four birdies and five pars in his opening nine holes to get off to a flier.

Fowler, the 2014 runner-up, made three birdies to move to three under.The 7,441-yard layout at Erin Hills is the longest major championship course in history.
But a week of rain which has softened greens and made the fairways more forgiving made for a low-scoring start to the second major of the season.

The past six majors dating back to the 2015 PGA Championship have been won by players who have never won a major before, with Sergio Garcia the most recent to break his duck with his triumph at the Masters.

Harman could become the seventh if he triumphs this week.A slew of players were two shots back from the leading trio on two under, including South African veteran Ernie Els and England’s Lee Westwood.

Westwood recovered from a double bogey on his third hole to drain three birdies.

Steady start for Johnson

World number one Dustin Johnson, the tournament favourite, made a steady start in a star-studded grouping with 2015 champion Jordan Spieth and 2014 winner Martin Kaymer of Germany.

Johnson, the defending champion, was even through four holes while Spieth was one under.
But despite the kind conditions, there was at least one early victim on Thursday.

Billy Horschel got off to a bad start with a quadruple bogey nine on the par-five first hole.
Masters winner Garcia and world number two Rory McIlroy had afternoon tee-times scheduled.
Meanwhile Phil Mickelson withdrew from the competition to attend his daughter’s graduation ceremony, organisers said.

Mickelson had been granted a tee time by the organisers on the off-chance that any delay in play may allow him time to fly from California to Erin Hills for the start of the first round.

But with play getting under way on Thursday under bright sunshine and clear skies, Mickelson’s hopes evaporated.

It means the 46-year-old will have to wait another year before he can attempt to end his US Open jinx.

The US Open is the only title missing from Mickelson’s collection of five majors. He has posted six second place finishes at the tournament in 26 attempts since 1990.

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