Scottie Scheffler Begins U.S. Open With 1-Over-Par 71 at Pinehurst No. 2

The world No. 1 has shot over par in consecutive rounds for the first time since last year’s British Open.
Scottie Scheffler hit just 6 of 14 fairways in his opening round at Pinehurst No. 2.
Scottie Scheffler hit just 6 of 14 fairways in his opening round at Pinehurst No. 2. / Katie Goodale-USA TODAY Sports

PINEHURST, N.C. — There’s no need to panic. There's no need for bettors to rip up their Scottie Scheffler win tickets for this U.S. Open.

But the world No. 1 wasn’t the best player at Pinehurst No. 2 on Thursday, unlike many of his days this year on the PGA Tour. 

Scheffler, a five-time winner this year, opened with a one-over-par 71 at the venerable Donald Ross-designed course that played difficult but not impossible.

Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy are tied for the early lead after five-under 65s, with McIlroy firing one of the two bogey-free opening rounds (Sergio Garcia was the other, shooting 69). Ludvig Aberg is a shot back at four under, Matthieu Pavon and Bryson DeChambeau two back at three under. 

Fifteen players in all shot in red figures—15 players who don’t have as many wins this season combined as Scheffler. The Texas has them beat on trophies, five to three.

Yet after one round in his attempt to win a second major this season, Scheffler is in a large pack tied for 34th place. And for the first time since last year’s British Open, Scheffler has shot back-to-back over par rounds.

Granted, the first one was last Sunday at the Memorial, where Jack Nicklaus’ Muirfield Village played like a U.S. Open course and Scheffler shot a final-round two-over 74 to hold off Collin Morikawa by one. The 74 was the final piece of a $4 million signature event win.

A win this week would pay $4.3 million, a major record. Again, don’t count him out yet.

After his round, Scheffler did TV interviews and then headed straight for the practice tee, working out the loose shots that plagued him Thursday. While the broadcast touted the 50 (!) PGA Tour statistical categories he’s leading, Scheffler’s normally rock-solid driving ranked 116th in strokes gained off the tee in Round 1.

Scheffler only hit six of 14 fairways around Pinehurst No. 2, with two of the wayward drives leading to bogeys. At the par-4 3rd he drove it left into a fairway bunker, hit his approach into a greenside bunker and made bogey. A left drive also proved damaging at 16, where after a long ruling to get a drop from a temporary movable obstruction (TIO), Scheffler missed the green long and failed to get up and down.

Those bogeys, along with a three-putt from 62 feet at the par-3 6th, plus two birdies added up to the 71. 

“I think the golf course is great. It's extremely challenging,” Scheffler said in his pre-tournament press conference. “I don't really think they have to do too much to trick it up with the way the greens are if they want the scores to be high. So it should be a good test and a fun week.”

He just hopes it’s a little more fun than Thursday.


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John Schwarb

JOHN SCHWARB

John Schwarb is the senior golf editor for Sports Illustrated whose career has spanned more than 25 years covering sports. He’s been featured on ESPN.com, PGATour.com, The Golfers Journal and Tampa Bay Times. He’s also the author of The Little 500: The Story of the World's Greatest College Weekend. A member of the Golf Writers Association of America, John is based in Indianapolis.