Justin Rose and Tiger Woods talk on the eighth hole during the first round of the 2019 U.S. Open.
By Alex Myers
PEBBLE BEACH — Justin Rose didn’t just dominate Thursday afternoon’s marquee pairing at the 2019 U.S. Open, he tied a record set by his more famous playing partner.
With an opening 65, Rose matched Tiger Woods’ first-round score in 2000 for the lowest-ever U.S. Open round at Pebble Beach. The Englishman also grabbed a one-shot lead after one round thanks to three consecutive birdies to cap his day. So did Rose know what his final birdie putt on the 18th hole meant?
“I did,” he told Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt following the round. “The only reason I knew is Rickie had the putt earlier and I was watching. . . . So on the last hole, I thought this would be kind of cool to do it in front of the great man himself.”
We’re guessing Woods didn’t find it quite as cool. Although, he was also happy to finish in red numbers despite a particularly poor performance with his irons.
Rose’s long game wasn’t sharp, either, but on the greens, he didn’t miss on 15 attempts from inside of 10 feet.
“I don’t know if I did a great job of anything today other than scrambling,” Rose said. “Which is nice to know I can shoot a score like this and know there’s more in the tank.”
Jordan Spieth, the third member of the group, shot 72. Rose’s finishing flurry of birdies moved him to six under, one clear of a foursome (Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Louis Oosthuizen, and Aaron Wise) at five under.
Oddly enough, this is Rose’s first crack at Pebble Beach in a U.S. Open after not qualifying in either 2000 or 2010. His absence was especially strange in 2010 having just won the Memorial the previous week. Still, it wasn’t enough to earn an invite and he failed to make it through sectional qualifying. Rose, currently No. 4 in the Official World Golf Ranking, has played on the Monterey Peninsula twice for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, finishing T-6 in 2016 and T-39 in 2017.
This is also Rose’s first major since longtime caddie Mark Fulcher announced he’s taking an indefinite leave of absence to focus on his health. Fulcher underwent heart surgery in January, but returned to caddie for Rose at both the Masters and PGA Championship. In his place is Gareth Lord, who was on Henrik Stenson’s bag during his 2016 Open Championship victory.
Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champ, is hoping this new partnership will produce his second major. There’s a lot of golf to go, but the last time someone shot 65 to start a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, well, it turned out pretty well.
“I wouldn’t say it’s exhilarating, because I feel like my mindset is I am in a 72 hole tournament,” Rose said. “This is just a very small step towards outcome. So you don’t feel like that buzz that you would on a Sunday, but you can’t help but look around over your shoulder, and dam, this is Pebble Beach. Shot 65 and you’re in the U.S. Open. It’s a cool moment. Whatever transpires the rest of the week, it was a cool moment.”