10 Stats to Know: Round 1, 122nd U.S. Open

By Justin Ray

| Jun 17, 2022 | BROOKLINE, MASS.

10 Stats to Know: Round 1, 122nd U.S. Open

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Thirty-four years after it last hosted this championship, The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., acquitted itself nicely on Thursday, yielding a mostly tight-bunched set of scores in Round 1. After 18 holes, exactly half of the field (78 players) are at or within six shots of the lead. Six shots is how many Brooks Koepka was trailing by after Round 1 when he won at Shinnecock Hills just four years ago.

That’s to say, we’re just getting started.

Here are 10 Stats to Know from Day 1 of the 122nd United States Open:

1. Adam Hadwin shot 66, his lowest career round in a major championship, and will sleep on a lead at a major for the first time in his professional career. Hadwin is the first Canadian to lead the U.S. Open outright after any round since Mike Weir did so after Round 1 at Bethpage Black in 2009. He will try to become the first player to lead after Round 1 of the U.S. Open and go on to win since Martin Kaymer at Pinehurst No. 2 back in 2014.

Hadwin was terrific with his iron play in Round 1 – he ranked eighth in the field in strokes-gained approach – but when he missed his target was able to get up and down five out of seven times. This is Hadwin’s 20th career major championship start – he has never finished inside the top 20 in one of the game’s biggest championships.

2. Among a group one shot off the pace is Rory McIlroy, just days removed from his emphatic Sunday 62 to win in Canada. Since 1960, the best finish at the U.S. Open by a player who won the previous week on Tour was Arnold Palmer, who lost a playoff in 1963 – a championship held here at The Country Club. Should Rory win this week, he would be the first player in the modern era to win the U.S. Open the week after winning a PGA Tour event.

There’s obviously a long way to go until that goal can be attained, but if McIlroy continues his brilliant play on short approach shots, he’s going to be tough to beat. Entering last week’s Canadian Open, McIlroy was averaging outside 20 feet on approaches from 50 to 125 yards away this season. In his last two competitive rounds, his average is under 8 feet. McIlroy was also exceptional on the greens Thursday, ranking third in the field in strokes-gained putting.

3. Thursday was McIlroy’s 13th career round in the 60s at the U.S. Open, tying Seve Ballesteros and Sergio Garcia for most all time by a European player. It was his 29th round of 67 or better in the major championships, the third-highest total by any player since 1995. Only Tiger Woods (48 rounds) and Phil Mickelson (37) have more scores of 67 or better in that span.

Looking to Friday, McIlroy has opened a major championship with back-to-back rounds in the 60s six times in his career. He went on to win three of those instances, including the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.

4. The other four players who shot 67 in Round 1 aren’t quite as decorated as McIlroy. Combined, the quartet of Callum Tarren, David Lingmerth, Joel Dahmen and MJ Daffue combined to make just 19 major-championship starts in their careers entering the day. This was the major debut for Daffue, and just the second major start for Tarren. Combined, those four players have just one top 10 in a major, Dahmen’s T-10 finish at the 2020 PGA Championship.

All that said, the U.S. Open could be due for a surprise winner. From 1990 through 2010, nine of the 21 winners entered that week outside the top 30 in the World Ranking. None of the last 11 have.

5. Among a large group of players at 2 under is Matt Fitzpatrick, the man who won the 2013 U.S. Amateur at Brookline in 2013, snapping a more than century-long drought for English players in that championship. The only player to win the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open at the same venue is Jack Nicklaus, who did it at Pebble Beach.

Fitzpatrick has been an analytical darling in 2022 for good reason: he’s improved his rankings in every single strokes-gained statistic generated by the PGA Tour this season compared to last. At Southern Hills last month, he finished in a tie for fifth, his best career major start. Can he join Nicklaus this week in Massachusetts?

6. Collin Morikawa shot 69 on Day 1, an ominous number for the rest of the field. This is the third time Morikawa has opened a major championship with a score in the 60s. In the other two instances – the 2020 PGA Championship and 2021 British Open – he went on to win. Morikawa posted a good score Thursday despite losing strokes to the field with his approach play, an uncharacteristic number for the American star. Since turning professional, no player has averaged more strokes-gained approach per round on the PGA Tour than Morikawa has.

7. Also carding 69 on Thursday was defending champion Jon Rahm, the same number he posted in Round 1 of his triumph last summer at Torrey Pines. Rahm gained 1.88 strokes on the field off the tee on Day 1, the most of any player. That’s been a common occurrence for the Spaniard in 2022 – he leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained off the tee this season by a significant margin.

Rahm is just the third defending U.S. Open champion since 2000 to open with a round in the 60s. The other two to do it in that time span were Retief Goosen in 2005, who would go on to hold the 54-hole lead before a final-round 81, and Brooks Koepka in 2019, when he finished runner-up to Gary Woodland.

8. The early wave had it slightly easier on the whole in Round 1, with 16 of the 25 rounds in the 60s coming from the first half of tee times. In all, the early wave averaged 72.51, about half-a-stroke lower than their counterparts on the other side of the draw. This despite the leader, Adam Hadwin, playing in the afternoon on Thursday.

There were 25 players to record scores in the 60s on Thursday. That ties the second-most in any Round 1 in U.S. Open history, trailing only 2019 at Pebble Beach, which had 27.

9. After opening with even-par 70, Xander Schauffele is in position to contend again at this championship. Schauffele has finished in the top 10 in all five of his career starts at the U.S. Open. The last player to finish in the top 10 for six years in a row was Jack Nicklaus, who did it from 1977 to 1982. Another one of the 16 players who shot 70 on Thursday was world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler. Since the inception of the Official World Golf Ranking in 1986, only one reigning world No. 1 has won the U.S. Open: Tiger Woods, who did it three times.

70 was also the low round of the day shot by an amateur: Travis Vick, who recently led his Texas Longhorns to the national championship – and Sam Bennett, a Texas A&M Aggie – each carded even par.

10. The Round 1 scoring average of the last 10 U.S. Open champions was 69.1. Perhaps even more telling, 21 of the last 23 winners of this championship were inside the top 20 after 18 holes. Worried about your favorite player’s chances after a tough Round 1? We’ve had seven winners all time who trailed by seven or more shots after Round 1 – 101 players shot 73 or lower on Thursday, keeping them in that historic shouting distance.

Justin Ray is the head of content for Twenty First Group. He has also worked as a senior researcher at ESPN and Golf Channel.