Winners and Losers From U.S. Open Round 1: Rory McIlroy Fires Bogey-Free 65

Rory McIlroy shares the lead with Patrick Cantlay, but they weren't the only players who should feel great (or not-so-great) after the opening round at the 2024 U.S. Open.
Rory McIlroy opened with a bogey-free 65 on Thursday at Pinehurst.
Rory McIlroy opened with a bogey-free 65 on Thursday at Pinehurst. / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

PINEHURST, N.C. – Day 1 of the 2024 U.S. Open is in the books. We call ’em like we see ’em around here. They are:

Winners

Rory McIlroy: The two-time U.S. Open champion was locked in all day, shooting a bogey-free 5-under 65 to tie Patrick Cantlay for the lead. The last three times McIlroy has gone bogey-free in the opening round of a majors, he’s won. He’ll be in position to win this weekend if he keeps playing the way he did Thursday. His monster drives were basically perfect. His irons gave him shots all day at birdies. His putts had perfect pace. McIlroy hasn’t won a major since the PGA Championship in 2014 at Valhalla. Maybe—just maybe—this is the week.

Patrick Cantlay: The eight-time PGA Tour winner was nearly flawless during his opening round, shooting a 5-under 65 with six birdies and one blemish at the par-3 15th. Cantlay finished with only 23 putts and is in great position win his first major. His previous-best finish in 30 majors is third at the 2019 PGA Championship.

Sergio Garcia: The LIV golfer went through 36-hole qualifying in an attempt to extend his consecutive U.S. Opens streak to 25 and was the odd man out of a 7-for-6 playoff, only to get in the field anyway Monday as an alternate. And what did he do with that late reprieve? The Spaniard shot 69 with 17 pars and a birdie, just the sixth bogey-free round in U.S. Opens at Pinehurst.

Ludvig Aberg: The 24-year-old from Sweden made his major championship debut at the Masters, finishing as the runner-up to Scottie Scheffler. At the PGA Championship, he had rounds of 72-70 and missed the cut. But he played an excellent round with Cantlay, recording six birdies on his way to a 4-under 66, and looks poised to challenge for the title. 

Bryson DeChambeau: He’s BAA-aaaaack. Four birdies, one bogey and a tidy little 67 to sit two shots behind McIlroy and Cantlay. DeChambeau has been one of the more entertaining characters to factor heavily in the first two majors this season. He's ready for his third act.

Losers

Tiger Woods: Perfect conditions greeted Woods in the opening round, and he took advantage getting off to a 1 under start after six holes. But his lack of competitive golf showed the rest of the way with six bogeys, one birdie and a 4-over finish. He’ll need to play flawlessly Friday, and a late start should help him. But unless his short game and putting show up, he could miss the weekend.

Phil Mickelson: Seems hard to believe but we may be watching the last few rounds of the Hall of Famer’s U.S. Open career, as his exemption from the 2021 PGA Championship win ends next year. Hopefully they will get better than Thursday’s ghastly 79, with nine bogeys and zero birdies.

Justin Thomas: The Louisville, Ky., native finished T8 at the PGA Championship, soaking up adulation from every corner of Valhalla Golf Club and earning even more cheers with his play. Is it possible that the next major would somehow be a letdown? Who knows, but an opening 77 is likely sending him home early from North Carolina.

Viktor Hovland: Didn’t make back-to-back pars until his final two holes to cap an ugly 78. He’s arguably atop the Best Player Without a Major List, and it looks like he’ll remain there for at least another month.

Scottie Scheffler: Look, he isn’t out of it. But we have high standards for the World No. 1 and most dominant player today, and for much of the opening round he hardly looked like himself—and it wasn’t just his fresh haircut and shaved beard. He signed for one-over 71, and seeing his name six shots behind the leaders feels like a typo.


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Jeff Ritter

JEFF RITTER

Jeff Ritter is the Managing Director of SI Golf. He spent more than a decade at Sports Illustrated and Golf Magazine, and in 2020 joined Morning Read to help spark its growth and eventual acquisition by Sports Illustrated in 2022. He's a member of the Golf Writers' Association of America (GWAA) and has covered more than 25 major championships. He helped launch SI Golf Plus Digital, Golf Magazine’s first original, weekly e-magazine, and served as its top editor. He also launched Golf's “Films” division, the magazine’s first long-form video storytelling franchise, and his debut documentary received an Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting. His writing has earned first-place awards from the Society of American Travel Writers, the MIN Magazine Awards, and the Golf Writers Association of America, among others. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. A native Michigander, he remains a diehard Wolverine fan and will defend Jim Harbaugh until the bitter end.

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.

John Pluym

JOHN PLUYM

John Pluym is the managing editor for NFL and golf content at Sports Illustrated. A sports history buff, he previously spent 10 years at ESPN overseeing NFL coverage. John has won several awards throughout his career, including from the Society of News Design and Associated Press Sports Editors. As a native Minnesotan, he enjoys spending time on his boat and playing golf.