Fowler sets pace with brilliant 65 at U.S. Open

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Rickie Fowler silenced Erin Hills critics by shooting a seven-under 65 to grab the first-round lead at the U.S. Open.

A lot of the talk ahead of the tournament surrounded the thick fescue guarding every hole at the Wisconsin course, but Fowler proved quickly low scores were possible.

Fowler, who is still searching for his first major victory, recorded seven birdies during his magnificent bogey-free round as he made the most of good early conditions on Thursday.

His superb 65 matched the lowest score to par recorded in a U.S. Open first round and gave him a one-shot lead, with several other big names struggling.

Paul Casey and Xander Schauffele tied for the lowest round of the afternoon wave with six-under 66s.

Casey has not enjoyed much success at the U.S. Open throughout his career, but he had six birdies, an eagle and two bogeys.

Americans Brooks Koepka and Brian Harman shot five-under 67s and were joined by Englishman Tommy Fleetwood.

Koepka finished his round with six birdies and one bogey. He has peppered leaderboards at major championships over the last couple years, but is still in search of a breakout win.

Patrick Reed returned to form by shooting a four-under 68. He has struggled since a sterling performance at the Ryder Cup, but finished his first round with six birdies and two bogeys.

Kevin Na, Adam Hadwin and Marc Leishman joined Reed at four under.

Hadwin, who started his round on the back nine, quickly fell to two over before birdieing six straight holes - tying the longest streak in the tournament's history - from the par-five 18th to the par-four fifth.

Masters champion Sergio Garcia led a group at two under, while Adam Scott fought back with two birdies and an eagle on his last four holes to shoot an even-par 72.

But some other big names endured miserable opening rounds.

Jordan Spieth looked irritated while shooting a 73, as defending champion Dustin Johnson, who introduced his second child into the world earlier this week, shot a 75.

World number three Jason Day struggled mightily, shooting a seven-over 79 that included a birdie at the last, while Rory McIlroy carded a similarly disappointing 78.