Justin Thomas grabs US Open lead as Tiger fades


Justin Thomas grabs US Open lead as Tiger fades

Friday, September 18, 2020

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NEW YORK, United States (AFP) — Justin Thomas closed with a 25-foot birdie putt to grab the early clubhouse lead over ace-firing Patrick Reed with Rory McIlroy two adrift in yesterday's opening round of the 120th US Open.

World number three Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner, fired a five-under par 65 at Winged Foot to edge ahead of fellow American Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, at the famed Mamaroneck, New York, layout.

“This is one of the better rounds I've had tee to green. I was very proud of my patience,” Thomas said.

Reed blasted a hole-in-one at the 165-yard par-3 seventh and ran off three birdies in four holes on the back nine to share the lead until the amazing finish by Thomas.

There were no spectators to applaud either of their amazing shots as a novel coronavirus pandemic precaution, the highly contagious virus having delayed the event from its usual June date.

Fourth-ranked McIlroy, playing his first major round since becoming a father with the birth of daughter Poppy two weeks ago, shot 67 to stand third, the four-time major winner making three of his four birdies on par-3 holes.

Top-ranked Dustin Johnson and second-ranked Jon Rahm teed off to start their first round as the leaders finished.

Tiger Woods, a 15-time major winner chasing a fourth US Open title at age 44, grinded all day but closed bogey-double bogey to stand on 73.

Woods made six bogeys, five birdies and the double. He birdied three in a row from the ninth through 11th holes only to close with three bogeys and a double in the last six holes.

Thomas, who fired the lowest US Open round ever at Winged Foot, dropped his approach to 2.5 feet at the first for birdie, took a bogey at the par-3 third after finding sand off the tee, then birdied the par-4 sixth after putting his approach inside eight feet.

Thomas ran off three birdies in a row starting at the par-5 ninth, where his approach landed inside six feet. He birdied the par-3 10th from 10 feet and the par-4 11th from nine feet, then parred his way along until his outstanding final putt.

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