Rory McIlroy eyes fifth major title win with flawless start at US Open

Rory McIlroy eyes fifth major title win with flawless start at US Open

Phil Casey, PA Golf Correspondent, Pinehurst

Rory McIlroy made the ideal start to his bid for a long overdue fifth major title with a flawless opening 65 in the 124th US Open at Pinehurst.

Two days after reconciling with his wife Erica and dismissing the divorce petition he filed last month, McIlroy outshone playing partners Scottie Scheffler and Xander Schauffele to share the lead with Patrick Cantlay on five under par.

The world number three holed from seven feet for a birdie on the fourth, chipped in from short of the green for another on the next and birdied the 10th, 16th and 18th to equal his lowest opening score in the US Open.


Masters champion Scheffler and US PGA winner Schauffele could only shoot 71 and 70, respectively.


McIlroy, who started the 2011 US Open, 2012 US PGA and 2014 Open with a bogey-free round and went on to win all three, said: “I went through a run there for a while where my starts at major championships weren’t very good.

“Probably got myself a little too worked up at the start of the week.

“But back to the (US) PGA I opened with a five under there at Valhalla. Even going all the way back to this tournament last year, I opened with a low one. It wasn’t quite as low as Rickie (Fowler) and Xander, but it was nice to open up with a low one and feel like you’re right in the tournament from the first day.

“Certainly the major championships that I’ve won or the ones that I’ve played well at, I’ve always seemed to get off to a good start, and it’s nice to get off to another one.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the US Open at Pinehurst (Matt York/AP)

“My short game was good early on. I chipped in at five and had a really good up and down on six and on eight. But apart from that, I think I hit every other green. It was a really controlled round of golf.”

Cantlay had been among the early starters and carded six birdies in a five-under-par 65 to match the first-round score of Martin Kaymer on his way to a runaway victory here in 2014.

Sweden’s Ludvig Aberg was a shot off the pace after returning a 66 on his US Open debut and just the third major championship of his career.

Aberg only turned professional 12 months ago but quickly won on the DP World Tour, helped Europe regain the Ryder Cup in Rome – including a 9&7 win with Viktor Hovland over Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka – and also tasted victory on the PGA Tour before the end of the season.

Such performances earned the 24-year-old a major debut at the Masters, and he pushed Scheffler all the way in April before the world number one pulled away to claim a second green jacket at Augusta National.

Ludvig Aberg
Ludvig Aberg waves after making a putt on the fifth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament on Thursday, June 13, 2024, in Pinehurst, N.C. (George Walker/AP)

“It was very nice round of golf. Not a lot to complain about,” said Aberg, who revealed that the first US Open he remembers was at Pinehurst in 2014, when his caddie Joe Skovron was working for joint runner-up Rickie Fowler.

“I felt like those times where I kind of got myself out of position a little bit, you just try to get back into play as easy as you can, give yourself a chance for a par.

“I think staying very disciplined is important. There’s a lot of pins you don’t really think about going for. So me and Joe, my caddie, we have a lot of good conversations about certain areas that you try to hit it in.”

Tiger Woods had been an early casualty of what he had predicted would be a “war of attrition”, the 15-time major winner making a birdie on his opening hole of the day before struggling to a 74.

Woods made a record 24th consecutive cut in the Masters before carding a third round of 82, his worst ever score at Augusta National, and also missed the cut in the US PGA Championship.

The 48-year-old also needed an invite from the USGA to make it to Pinehurst after his exemption for winning the 2019 Masters expired, but insisted: “I’m physically getting better as the year has gone on.

“I just haven’t been able to play as much because I just don’t want to hurt myself pre, then I won’t be able to play in the major championships.

“It’s pick your poison, right? Play a lot with the potential of not playing, or not playing and fight being not as sharp.”

Bryson DeChambeau and France’s Matthieu Pavon were two shots off the lead on three under par, Pavon becoming the first player to make multiple eagles – on the fifth and 10th – in a US Open round at Pinehurst.

England’s Robert Rock, who announced his retirement from professional golf in October 2022 but came through final qualifying at the age of 47, carded two birdies and two bogeys in a level-par 70.

Waterford's Seamus Power will begin his second round at the US Open in a tie for 34th.

The Touraneena man fired a round of 1 over yesterday, as he sits six shots off the early lead at Pinehurst - which is currently held by Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay on five under.

Shane Lowry and Tom McKibbin could face a battle to make the cut - they both sit on 4 over par respectively.

Power tees off at 20 to 6 Irish time today - while McIlroy is first out of the Irish contingent from half past 12.

Lowry tees off at 1, while McKibben gets his day underway at half 5.