Cantlay, McIlroy Share Lead After First Round of U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2

Cantlay, McIlroy Share Lead After First Round of U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2

Patrick Cantlay hits from the bunker onto the 11th green during the first round of the U.S. Open in Pinehurst, N.C., on June 13, 2024. (Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY via Field Level Media)

Field Level Media
Field Level Media


Updated: 6/13/2024


PINEHURST, N.C.—Patrick Cantlay took the early route to a strong opening round in the U.S. Open on Thursday. Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy waited to see the rewards.
Cantlay racked up six birdies and McIlroy played a bogey-free round on their way to 5–under 65s to share the first-round lead.
“I knew going off at 7:40 in the morning, it’s going to play maybe the easiest it will play all week, with the lack of wind and probably the softest we'll see it,” Cantlay said.
Cantlay established the lead early in the day, and McIlroy, the 2011 champion, had birdies on two of the final three holes while playing in the afternoon.
“I felt like my patience was rewarded there,” McIlroy said. “It was really nice to finish like that.”
Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg shot 66 to hold third place. France’s Matthieu Pavon had two eagles during the first 10 holes and ended up shooting 67, a mark later matched by 2020 champion Bryson DeChambeau.
Tony Finau, Akshay Bhatia, from nearby Raleigh, and England’s Tyrrell Hatton shot 68s to share sixth place.
Golfers had to negotiate the tricky greens on Pinehurst No. 2, along with the increasing heat of the day. Cantlay began the round on No. 10. He got better later in the round, with four birdies on the first eight holes on the front side.
“Feeling good about my game,” Cantlay said. “I’ve been working hard. I have to just keep putting myself in the fairway, giving myself opportunities, and I did a good job of that.”
This is the first time Cantlay has led or co-led in a major. McIlroy, who chipped in for birdie on No. 5, pulled even with a strong closing stretch. He also had a bogey-free first round when he won in 2011.
“I felt like I controlled most aspects of my game really well,” McIlroy said. “I was very disciplined when I needed to be.”
Cantlay’s putt on the final attempt at a birdie on the last hole clipped the cup and stayed out. Otherwise, he would have had the lowest U.S. Open round on this course. Still, the masterful performance involved only 23 putts, and he posted the third-ever 65 in the championship at this venue.
One reason for Cantlay’s low number of putts: He holed a shot from the greenside bunker on No. 11. Aberg said playing Pinehurst is a matter of staying disciplined, noting the temptation to fire at every pin.
“Super happy with the execution today,” Aberg said. “I felt it was really nice and very encouraging. All we can try to do is keep it up and make sure that we’re ready to go [Friday].”
Pavon became the first golfer to ever record multiple eagles in the same U.S. Open round at Pinehurst. His first breakthrough came with an eagle on No. 5 and later on No. 10—the course’s two par-5 holes—where he rolled in putts of 18 feet and 27 feet.
He reached 5 under before his first bogey on the par-4 11th. After the second eagle, Pavon played the final eight holes in 2 over.
It was a rough day for Tiger Woods, who shot 74 with two birdies—both on the par-5 holes—and six bogeys. Woods, who began the round on the back nine, birdied his first hole. But a seven-hole stretch with five bogeys sent him tumbling down the standings.
“I didn’t hit my irons particularly well,” Woods said. “But I drove it on a string all day. Unfortunately, I just didn’t capitalize on it.”
Woods, a three-time U.S. Open champion who received a special exemption for entry to the championship, added that he was off on the speed of his putts.
“If I clean that up and I hit a couple of iron shots not as loose as I did, I’m right there at even par,” he said.
Germany’s Martin Kaymer, who won the last time the U.S. Open was contested at Pinehurst, in 2014, ended up with 70. He was 2 under through 13 holes before two bogeys.
World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler had a mundane 71. Defending champion Wyndham Clark managed just one birdie during his round of 73. Only 15 golfers in the 156-golfer field were under par.
Australia’s Adam Scott was in position to be under par until a double-bogey on his second-to-last hole (No. 8). A birdie on the last hole left him with even-par 70. Scott, playing in a 23rd consecutive U.S. Open and his 92nd straight major, didn’t have a spot in the field until the beginning of the week.
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