Sunshine and celebrities accompany L.A sports spectacles. The Rose Bowl under blue skies, the Dodgers in shirt sleeves, the Lakers with actors and entertainers enthralled by the action. Those images endure and recur.
The first day of the U.S. Open at the L.A. Country Club offered neither. It drizzled in the morning and remained overcast. Celebrities are famously unwelcome at LACC, and none were spotted Thursday even as paying customers.
Instead, the U.S. Open provided record golf. Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele both shot morning rounds of 62, tying the mark for low round in a major with Branden Grace of South Africa, who shot a 62 at the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
Like that course, the LACC is a par 70. Golfers were nearly unanimous in their praise of the course and expectation of difficulty during practice rounds, but Fowler and Schauffele slayed it, holding a five-stroke lead over a cluster of golfers at three under as the afternoon groups teed off.
“The sun didn’t come out and it was misting this morning, so I’d say the greens held a little bit more moisture than anticipated for myself at least,” Schauffele said. “It made the greens sort of that much more of a hole-able speed, and then coming into greens you’re able to pull some wedges back.”
Schauffele’s group teed off 22 minutes after Fowler’s group, and both began with the back nine.
“Got off to a nice start making three on No. 10 and just never really thought about a score or necessarily what I was trying to do out there,” Fowler said.
Fowler, from Murrieta, and Schauffele, from San Diego, have never won a major.
“This week is off to a good start, but there’s still plenty of golf to be played,” Fowler said. “It’s going to be tough tomorrow afternoon. But at least I got out of the gate and we’re off to, like I said, a good start.”
Schauffele was equally subdued about the significance of tying the record. After all, Grace finished tied for sixth after he set the record in the third round of the Open, eight strokes behind winner Jordan Spieth. Oddly, 38 rounds of 63 have been recorded in majors.
“I mean, I don’t know, it’s just Thursday,” Schauffele said. “It’s literally just the first day of a tournament. It’s a good start.”
Elsewhere, Scottie Scheffler, Bryson DeChambeau, S.W. Kim and Paul Barjon each finished three-under par. Max Homa of Valencia was one of four golfers at four under.