Fowler, Fleetwood shine as birdies flow at rain-softened Erin Hills

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Erin Hills was playing host to birdies galore on the first morning of the 2017 U.S. Open, with Rickie Fowler making the most headway early on.

At 7,845 yards, this week's venue is the longest in U.S. Open history, while much has been made of the challenge posed by the Wisconsin course's lengthy fescue rough.

However, a combination of greens that had been softened by heavy rain earlier in the week and calm, sunny conditions led to low scoring from Thursday's early starters.

Fowler surged to six under through 11 holes after starting on the 10th, while Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed and Brian Harman were all five under as they headed into the latter stages of their opening rounds.

When the wind is down, Erin Hills just does not have much of a defence. The rough is troublesome, but the fairways are so wide that players really should be able to avoid it on most holes.

Veteran Ernie Els was also well-placed, turning in a four-under 32, but not everybody was going so well.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson found the fescue on a regular basis as he turned in three over, while Jon Rahm was on the same score through 12 holes after a scrappy start.

During Wednesday's practice rounds, the wind was down in the morning before gusts picked up close to 20mph after lunch.

It remained to be seen whether those out on Thursday afternoon - such as Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Sergio Garcia - would face trickier conditions.