Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa fight through the weird to begin U.S. Open


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BROOKLINE, Mass. — Buried in a mass of golfers who got below par but not all that far below par was one major winner who witnessed two kids running off with his ball on No. 18 and another major winner who got exasperated enough to golf 27 holes per day last week in the sunspot Las Vegas heat.

The 122nd U.S. Open was underway, and both defending champion Jon Rahm and reigning British Open champion Collin Morikawa reached early contention. Both shot 1-under-par 69s among the earlier finishers on the Country Club course with Adam Hadwin leading the way after one round with a 4-under 66.

Rahm did so with one of the stranger finishes going, a birdie on the last hole that involved a ball replacement after the initial one got pilfered.

“I’m pretty sure I know who it was,” he said. “I recognized the two kids that were running the opposite way with a smile on their face. I am 100 percent sure I saw the two kids that stole it.”

Well, the world’s No. 2 player got a new ball, got a drop from near a grandstand and got to 21 feet, from which he birdied. That came after a No. 17 on which he hit two drives, the second a provisional just in case his first had gone into a no-no zone, which it hadn’t.

He fought the crosswinds and the crosswinds often won, but he figures he can adapt to that from here. “There were about five iron shots that I shanked completely: nine, 10, 12, 15 and if I’m missing one there,” he said. “Yeah, no, they were just bad swings. In a situation where they were all, in theory, good looks, right? It’s just bad swings. That’s all I can tell you. I’m not too worried. A lot of times when you’re in competition and you have all these crosswinds, a lot of it was a bit of indecision and doubt in my mind because we weren’t exactly sure where the wind was coming from and not committing 100 percent of the time to the shot. That was the difference.”

He concluded, “I don’t think it was really anything I need to look too far into.”

Morikawa, meanwhile, has been wrestling with his own strong mind over the fact he has hit cuts since forever but finds himself now hitting draws. “It’s really hard,” he said of this odd funk in an odd sport.

At the U.S. Open, it’s Rory McIlroy and a lot of golfers you don’t know

His results had been dour for him of late, most recently a missed cut at the Memorial in Ohio, and his media session Tuesday sounded something like therapy. “I’ve been so worried about trying to hit this cut — like, almost forcing a cut,” he said then. So, he said Thursday, he went out in the outdoor incinerator of Las Vegas in June leading up to this and “played multiple days of 27 holes, which I never do. Hit more balls than I ever have in the hot Vegas heat. I just wanted to figure it out.”

Then: “I hit a point Thursday afternoon where I said: ‘This is stupid. Why try and fight it? I can still hit the golf ball. It’s not like I’m not hitting it to where I want.’”

By the time he reached the turn Thursday, he stood at 3 under and “thought I was going to go a lot deeper than three, I can tell you that.” He came to consider his 1 under as “mediocre” and said he found this U.S. Open course unusually “gettable,” with “birdie opportunities from hole 1 all the way through 18.”

It sounded encouraging for a massive talent enduring the weird.

“I played a lot of golf last week and a lot of holes to try to be able to trust it,” he said of the draw. “I haven’t played a draw since maybe freshman year of college. Definitely in high school. It’s different. It’s not the same trust, but this week I have to trust it. That’s the only way I’m going to hit shots.”


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