Casey delighted to be anywhere near Fowler

Updated: 

Paul Casey was ecstatic with his six-under 66 at the U.S. Open, happy to be anywhere near leader Rickie Fowler.

Fowler took advantage of good early conditions at Erin Hills on Thursday, carding a 65 to take a one-shot lead in the first round.

Casey and Xander Schauffele were the best of those teeing off later in the day and sit tied for second.

Englishman Casey said he had watched Fowler to start the day, leaving him delighted he almost matched the American star.

"I would have snapped your arm for a six under," he said.

"I watched Rickie this morning. I love watching the golf early mornings on major championships, and this morning was no exception. I'm a Rickie Fowler fan, and the golf he produced this morning was beautiful.

"I was hoping and praying if I could get the same kind of conditions and hoping and praying I would be half as good as Rickie Fowler, so to be right behind him I'm ecstatic.

"I never started off with an eagle before at a U.S. Open Championship. I really enjoyed it. Great crowds. Love the whole experience."

A rookie, Schauffele was the surprise name alongside Casey after his bogey-free opening round.

The American, 23, said just having the opportunity to play at Erin Hills was a huge boost.

"I qualified for this event. It's not like I was in it already. To me as a rookie you only get a certain amount of starts," Schauffele said.

"For me to qualify for this event it's like a bonus round for me. I have nothing to lose. The better I play it's good on me."