Patrick Cantlay Shoots 65, Leads Early in Opening Round at U.S. Open

The eight-time PGA Tour winner started quickly at challenging Pinehurst No. 2.
Patrick Cantlay shot 65 on Thursday morning at the 124th U.S. Open .
Patrick Cantlay shot 65 on Thursday morning at the 124th U.S. Open . / John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

PINEHURST, N.C. — Patrick Cantlay is on the short list of the best golfers without a major title. He’s off to a good start to remove his name from that list.

The eight-time PGA Tour winner and ninth-ranked player in the world shot 5-under 65 Thursday morning at Pinehurst No. 2 in the opening round of the 124th U.S. Open, leading by one over Ludvig Åberg with the afternoon wave still set to tee off.

Cantlay, a 32-year-old California native who played collegiately at UCLA, is making his 30th major start. He has never missed a cut in the U.S. Open, with high finishes of T14 the last two years.

Xander Schauffele, his closest friend on Tour, won his first major last month at the PGA Championship. Cantlay finished T53 that week at Valhalla Golf Club.

On Thursday Cantlay made six birdies against just one bogey at perilous Pinehurst No. 2, where domed green complexes repel shots in all directions and act as the course’s primary defense against the game’s best players. Cantlay had just 23 putts.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka, for example, shot 33 on the front nine and got to 3 under through 10 holes but gave all that back with three bogeys in a four-hole stretch and shot even-par 70.

Åberg, a 24-year-old Swede ranked sixth in the world, shot 4-under 66 in his first U.S. Open round. Pavon, a native of France who was a surprise winner earlier this year at Torrey Pines, got to 5 under through 10 holes with eagles on both of Pinehurst's par 5s but made two bogeys the rest of the way to shoot 67.

Tony Finau, who has won six times on Tour and is also in the best-without-a-major conversation, shot 68.

Sam Bennett, Corey Conners, Sergio Garcia, S.H. Kim and Aaron Rai all posted 1-under 69s from the morning wave. Garcia, a player on LIV Golf, is making his 25th consecutive U.S. Open start after making the field as alternate from last week’s 36-hole final qualifying. His 69 featured 17 pars and one birdie—good for the sixth bogey-free round in four U.S. Opens played at Pinehurst No. 2.

Tiger Woods shot 4-over 74, playing for the first time since missing the cut at last month’s PGA Championship. Phil Mickelson, who like Woods played at Pinehurst’s first U.S. Open in 1999, shot 9-over 79 with nine bogeys and no birdies.

This U.S. Open has the highest purse ever for a major championship, at $21.5 million with $4.3 million to the winner.

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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,, 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.