U.S. Open 2019: What was the biggest surprise of Round 1 at Pebble Beach?

June 14, 2019

Justin Rose made a late birdie to tie Tiger Woods’ U.S. Open-low score at Pebble Beach (which Woods set in 2000), but plenty more happened on the opening day of our national championship. Rickie Fowler set the pace early and several others followed. Here’s what our staff says were the biggest surprises of Round 1.

Jonathan Wall, equipment editor (@jonathanrwall): All of the low scores! It feels like the Pro-Am is being played in June. What’s a guy gotta do to get some carnage around here?

Sean Zak, associate editor (@sean_zak): Didn’t expect there to be FOUR 66s and a 65. Biggest surprise for me was the collective scoring.

Jeff Ritter, digital development editor (@Jeff_Ritter): I thought Pebble would play a little soft, but I’m surprised there are so many low numbers. If this is how it’s going to play for three more days, might as well send Bill Murray, Kenny G and Ray Romano out with the pros on Friday.

Alan Bastable, executive editor (@alan_bastable): Rickie (66, one back) isn’t a great answer but it’s a truthful one. In the run-ups to the majors we spend so much time gassing Tiger, Phil, Rory and Brooks (kind of) that Fowler’s easy to overlook. I know I overlooked him. Shouldn’t have. Pebble suits his game. Another delightful surprise: a Nebraskan is two off the lead (that would be Nate Lashley).

Jessica Marksbury, multimedia editor (@Jess_Marksbury): I was pleasantly surprised by Rory today. Yes, he’s riding a hot streak after his awesome final-round performance in Canada, but his U.S. Opens have been pretty unspectacular over the last three years (cut, cut, cut). This was his best opening round at the U.S. Open since 2015, and it’s fun to see him in the mix on the leaderboard in the early stages.

Dylan Dethier, associate editor (@Dylan_Dethier): I’m not surprised by how low guys went — 65 is great, but guys go low all the time! I’m surprised that there are 57 guys at even par or better, and that the cut line is going to hover around two or three over. This leaderboard could really pack together tight.

Luke Kerr-Dineen, instruction editor (@LukeKerrDineen): The biggest surprise from day one? That Sepp Straka inside the top 10 at the U.S. Open. It’s nothing against Sepp, of course. More power to him, and I hope he keeps it up. But I think we could’ve foreseen the course playing slightly easier, or Rickie Fowler making a run. I doubt there were a bunch of fans predicting Straka, who has two top 25s in 16 starts this season, within striking distance at the U.S. Open.