American Patrick Cantlay grabs early US Open lead with 65

Patrick Cantlay of the United States reacts on the ninth green during the first round of the 124th US Open at Pinehurst Resort on Thursday. Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP

Patrick Cantlay of the United States reacts on the ninth green during the first round of the 124th US Open at Pinehurst Resort on Thursday. Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images/AFP

Published Jun 13, 2024


Ninth-ranked American Patrick Cantlay birdied three of his last five holes to seize a one-stroke lead early in Thursday's US Open first round as the world's three top-ranked players teed off at Pinehurst.

Cantlay, seeking his first major triumph, fired a five-under par 65, making six birdies against a lone bogey to leap atop the leaderboard.

Sweden's sixth-ranked Ludvig Aberg, runner-up at April's Masters in his major debut, sank a six-foot birdie putt at the par-3 ninth to finish a four-under 66 to grab second.

France's Matthieu Pavon fired 67 to stand third while American Tony Finau closed with a bogey at the ninth to settle for fourth on 68.

As they finished, top-ranked Scottie Scheffler, world number two Xander Schauffele and third-ranked Rory McIlroy set off to test a 7,543-yard sandhills layout with domed greens, sandy waste areas and wiregrass.

Cantlay, the 2021 PGA Tour playoff champion, has a best major showing of sharing third at the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage.

He's also a contender for a US berth at the Paris Olympics but needs to finish no worse than second this week to have a chance.

The star group features Scheffler, considered the man to beat with five US PGA Tour victories this year, the most by any player at this stage since Tom Watson in 1980.

Two-time Masters champion Scheffler has 12 top-10 showings in 13 starts this year and could match 15-time major winner Woods as the only players to win a US Open while atop the world rankings.

Schauffele won last month's PGA Championship for his first major title, snapping a two-year win drought.

McIlroy has five consecutive top-10 finishes at the US Open, improving every year in the run to place second in 2023.

Cantlay, a back-nine starter, blasted 35 feet out of a bunker to birdie 11, missed the green to bogey the par-3 15th, birdied 18 from just beyond 17 feet and sank a five-foot birdie putt at the first hole.

The 32-year-old American grabbed a share of the lead with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 fifth and a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-3 sixth, then seized the outright edge by landing his approach at the eighth green four feet from the hole and making the birdie putt.

Aberg began on the back nine and birdied the par-4 11th and 12th holes with birdie putts of just inside 19 feet and 32 feet respectively. After a bogey at 14, he birdied the 18th and first holes from about four feet.

After a tap-in birdie at five, he missed the green with his approach to bogey six but took second with his closing birdie.

World number 24 Pavon soared on eagles' wings.

The 31-year-old Frenchman sank an 18-foot eagle putt at the par-5 fifth, a birdie putt from just inside 38 feet at the par-4 eighth and a 27-foot eagle putt at the par-5 10th to seize the lead.

He made a bogey at 11 after finding a bunker with his approach, saved par at 12 with a putt from just inside 14 feet and saved par again at 14 from just over 23 feet.

In January, he became the first Frenchman to win a US PGA Tour event since 1907 with a triumph at Torrey Pines.

Finau began on the back nine, opening and closing it with birdies, and answered a bogey at the second with birdies at the fifth and seventh holes.

Koepka, Tiger well back

Five-time major winner Brooks Koepka, chasing a third US Open title after wins in 2017 and 2018, and seventh-ranked Collin Morikawa, a two-time major winner, were among those on 70.

— U.S. Open (@usopengolf) June 13, 2024

Morikawa shared third at the Masters in April and fourth at last month's PGA Championship. He was runner-up to Scheffler at last week's Memorial tournament.

Morikawa owns the final US berth for the Paris Olympics behind Scheffler, Schauffele and defending US Open champion Wyndham Clark.

Tiger Woods, a 15-time major winner struggling to overcome severe leg injuries from a 2021 car crash, struggled to a 74. He opened with a birdie at 10 but had five bogeys in a seven-hole stretch starting at 16.