England's Tommy Fleetwood fired himself into contention for a maiden Major title after posting a bogey-free round of 67 to sit two shots adrift of pace-setter Rickie Fowler at the US Open at Erin Hills.
The 26-year-old, who finished tied for 27th on his only other US Open appearance in 2015, ended the opening round five under par and tied for second with American duo Brian Harman and Brooks Koepka.
Record-equalling Fowler had seven birdies and no bogeys in his 65, which tied with the lowest ever first round score to par at a US Open with Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf at the 1980 edition at Baltusrol. Both he and Fleetwood will be buoyed by the last six Majors all being won by first-time victors.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia made a solid start and was in the chasing pack with a handful of holes left, while Rory McIlroy was well off the pace and over par.
Fleetwood, who won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in January, said: “It’s great to be back playing in these events. I do like watching golf but it’s not the same sitting on your couch at home watching your television.
“It’s great to be back playing Majors and nice to play well. It was great to get it going and I held a few really good putts which kept the round going but I didn’t expect to be five under.”
Paul Casey was the highest-placed Englishman after Fleetwood deep into the back nine, while Lee Westwood and Andrew Johnston closed on three under.
Not since Curtis Strange in 1989 has a player retained his US Open crown and defending champion and world No1 Dustin Johnson made an inauspicious start to his defence, finishing three over par after carding an opening round 75.
Fellow American and former world No1 Jordan Spieth enjoyed marginally better fortunes but was dogged by errant putting as he ended the day on one over, having posted a 73. He joked that he and Johnson ought to have a “glorified putting contest” as means of practice.
Yorkshire’s Danny Willett, who claimed victory at the 2016 Masters, birdied the ninth, his final hole, but that was a rare bright spark in an otherwise frustrating round as he carded a nine-over-par 81.