Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele shoot the lights out to break US Open record

Rickie Fowler is back to playing his best golf at the US Openin Los Angeles. Picture: Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports via

Rickie Fowler is back to playing his best golf at the US Openin Los Angeles. Picture: Michael Madrid/USA TODAY Sports via

Published Jun 16, 2023


Los Angeles, United States - Rickie Fowler fired 10 birdies in a US Open record-low round of 62 on Thursday and Xander Schauffele matched it minutes later to share the first-round lead at Los Angeles Country Club.

Fowler, fighting out of a slump that saw him miss the past two US Opens, overcame two bogeys in his eight-under-par effort and surpassed the previous tournament record low round of 63, first set by Johnny Miller at Oakmont in 1973.

Xander Schauffele, the 2021 Olympic champion playing two groups behind Fowler, had eight birdies without a bogey. He had a 27-foot birdie putt at his final hole, the par-three ninth, but left it four feet short.

"I knew it was close, I wasn't sure of the exact number," Fowler said of the low-round record. "I just tried to keep moving forward."

Both Fowler and Schauffele matched the lowest round recorded in any major championship -- Branden Grace's 62 in the third round of the Open Championship at Royal Birkdale in 2017.

They were two strokes ahead of two-time major champion Dustin Johnson and Wyndham Clark on six-under 64, with four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and Brian Harman a further stroke back on 65.

Overcast skies and intermittent morning mist made the North Course at LA Country Club a more inviting target as it hosted the US Open for the first time.

Fowler, a former world number four who fell to as low as 185th as he struggled with his game in 2021 and 2022, got his charge going with a six-foot birdie at his first hole, the 10th.

He bounced back from a bogey at 11 with birdies at 12, 14 and 16, rolling in putts of 18, 11 and 13 feet. After a bogey at 17, he birdied four straight, launching the run with a 15-footer at the 18th.

His most head-turning shot was from the sandy scrub of the barranca at the par-five eighth -- where he would go on to make a 13-foot putt for the birdie that moved him to eight-under.

"(I) knew with where that pin was, I could get a wedge close," Fowler said. "Stuck in the ground a bit, but I'll take it. We ended up with a good look and walked away with four."

In fact, Fowler did most of his damage on the greens, leading the field with 4.73 strokes gained putting.

Schauffele, who has five top-10 finishes in six prior US Open starts, admitted he wasn't thinking 62 when he set out.

"It's not what you expect playing a US Open," the world number six said. "But monkey-see, monkey-do. Was just chasing Rickie up the leaderboard. Glad he was in front of me."

All-around performance

Schauffele also teed off on 10 and birdied 10, 12 and 14. He rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt at the first hole and a 60-footer at the fifth.

"Just an all-around performance, honestly," said Schauffele, who added his last two birdies at the seventh and eighth.

Johnson and Clark lit the course up again in the afternoon.

Johnson matched his low round in a major. He was seven under without a bogey through 17 holes but bogeyed his last, the par-three ninth, while Clark had eight birdies and two bogeys.

— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 16, 2023

"Today obviously with the setup, it was definitely somewhat get-able if you drove it really well," Johnson said.

McIlroy was five-under on the front nine, but he conjured just one birdie coming in and fell into a tie for fifth with his lone bogey at 18 -- where his approach found the greenside rough and he then failed to advance the ball. McIlroy made an 11-foot bogey putt to limit the damage.

World No 1 Scottie Scheffler headed a group of seven players on three-under-par 67 that also included former US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, South Korean Kim Si-woo, France's Paul Barjon, Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, Harris English and Sam Bennett.

Not everyone could take advantage of the scoring opportunities. Brooks Koepka, who captured his fifth major title at the PGA Championship last month, carded a one-over 71 as did defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick.

Reigning Open champion Cameron Smith of Australia posted a one-under-par 69, as did Masters champion Jon Rahm.

France's Matthieu Pavon and American Sam Burns aced the 124-yard par-three 15th, both of their shots landing past the hole and spinning back into the cup.