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Course, field square through 18

THE players got a handle on Chambers Bay but didn't have it all their own way on day one of the US Open.

IT started the week an unknown quantity but it seems the field figured out the Chambers Bay course on day one of the 2015 US Open.

There were plenty of the predicted crazy bounces and breaks, both good and bad, but at the end of the day's play the scoreline between golfers and course was 1-all.

Big hitters Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson led the way from the morning wave, both posting 5-under rounds of 65, but the good scoring continued in the afternoon.

As the sun set on the first national championship ever played in America's Pacific Northwest, 25 players were in red figures, another 16 at even par.

On a golf course that is a radical departure from US Opens of the past two decades there were mixed reviews from the field, most complaints levelled at the condition of the putting surfaces.

Spain's Sergio Garcia was a vocal critic, taking to Twitter to vent his frustration after amassing 33 strokes on his way to an even par 70. 

Six time runner-up Phil Mickelson was in agreement with the Spaniard suggesting everything about the course was good – except the greens.

“I thought it played terrific,” the five-time major winner said in his post round press conference.

“I thought it played as we expected. I thought there was nothing hokey or crazy with any pin positions or how it played. I thought it was difficult.

“I think the biggest challenge is that the green speeds are different from green to green. That's going to wreak havoc on our touch.

“And that's the only thing I could possibly think of that is not really positive, because I think it's been very well done.”

For those who ply their trade on the PGA Tour, Chambers Bay could hardly be more different than the week to week examination they face.

In look, feel and the shots required it is more like the links courses found in the UK though it doesn't play quite like a classic seaside course, either.

The massive elevation changes make yardages difficult to calculate while severe slopes surrounding the greens ask questions of the short game most in the field are neither familiar nor comfortable with.

Perhaps the best example of the options available came when the group of Tiger Woods, Louis Oosthuizen and Rickie Fowler arrived at the par-5 eighth.

Both Fowler and Oosthuizen missed the green right and faced a severe upslope to the putting surface.

Playing first, Oosthuizen elected to throw the ball in the air with a lob wedge, straight at but past the flag and allow a slope behind the hole to bring it back.

Moments later Fowler, from just a few feet away, pulled a straight faced iron and ran the ball along the ground away from the flag to the back of the green and used the contours to bring it back.

Both shots finished roughly the same distance away, equally legitimate but radically different ways to achieve the same result.

The mixture of players at the top of the leader board confirms there is no shortage of ways to play Chambers Bay.

From the bombing, flamboyant golf of leaders Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson to the more steady, conservative play of top 10 lurkers Francesco Molinari and Jason Dufner it seems the course doesn't favour any particular style of play.

With 54 holes still to play it will be fascinating to watch each golfer try to figure out their own best way to tackle Chambers Bay.

Whether the scores are high or low it seems the golf will be entertaining.

US OPEN FIRST ROUND LEADERBOARD

POSITION PLAYER TO PAR
T1 DUSTIN JOHNSON -5
T1 HENRIK STENSON -5
3 PATRICK REED -4
T4 BRIAN CAMPBELL (A) -3
T4 MATT KUCHAR -3
T4 BEN MARTIN -3
T6 JASON DAY (AUS) -2
T14 PHIL MICKELSON -1
T14 GEOFF OGILVY (AUS) -1
T26 CAMERON SMITH (aus) e
T26 adam scott (AUS) e
t42 marcus fraser (AUS) +1
t54 KURT BARNES (AUS) +2
t54 JOHN SENDEN(AUS) +2
t80 MARC LEISHMAN(AUS) +3

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