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Fowler surges back into spotlight with a record 62 at US Open

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Rickie Fowler watches his tee shot on the fifth hole during the first round of the 2023 U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club in Los Angeles, Calif. on Thursday, June 15, 2023. (Chris Keane/USGA)

V Krishnaswamy

Los Angeles: A year after waiting out for a full day as the first reserve, Rickie Fowler did not even get to play at the 2022 US Open. A year later, he came back from the first round with a US Open record 8-under 62 alongside Xander Schauffele, who shared the lead at the Los Angeles Country Club.

Still searching for his maiden Major, the 34-year-old has emerged from the worst slump of his 15-year professional career.  Both Fowler and Schauffele are looking to hoist their first Major.

The conditions were perfect for scoring. There was no wind, the skies were overcast and the temperatures were in the 60s (Fahrenheit) and virtually no wind at the 7,252-yard, par-70 George C. Thomas Jr. designed course. As many as 37 players bettered par

Two-time major champion Dustin Johnson bogeyed his final hole, the par-3 ninth, but carded 64 to join Wyndham Clark, in tied third at 6-under.

Tied at 6-under till his final hole, Rory McIlroy, the 2011 champion, bogeyed his final hole of the day to shoot 5-under 65.

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler shot a 67. Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 champion, and reigning U.S. Amateur champion Sam Bennett, who turned pro two weeks ago, each carded 67s.

In 2014, Fowler became one of four players to finish in the top five of all four majors in a single year and he joined Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. But Fowler is the only one not to register a win.

Fowler’s slump took him down to 182nd in the Official World Golf Ranking by the end of the 2021-22 PGA Tour season. He had only teed it up in four of the last 10 major championships, including a missed cut in last month’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

A seven-time PGA Tour winner, Schauffele produced the day’s only bogey-free round. Like Fowler. He started on No. 10 and posted birdies on Nos. 10, 12 and 15, then added birdies on Nos. 1, 2, 5, 7 and 8.

While Fowler and Schauffele co-own the 18-hole U.S. Open scoring record, the course record of 61 still belongs to Max Homa, who achieved that in the 2013 Pacific-12 Conference Championship, which he won. This time Homa carded a 2-under 68.

On an action-packed day, Matthieu Pavon of France and American Sam Burns registered the 49th and 50th recorded holes-in-one in championship history. Both aced the 124-yard 15th hole. Pavon used a gap wedge and Burns had a sand wedge.

The Los Angeles Country Club is the first U.S. Open venue to feature five par-3s and three par-5s.

Gordon Sargent, a rising junior at Vanderbilt who became No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking on Wednesday, led the 19-player amateur contingent with 1-under 69.

The low 60 and ties advancing to the weekend.

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