Tough but playable conditions for the first round of the 124th U.S. Open as Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay hold a one-shot lead

Unlike the U.S. Women's Open two weeks ago, we've been somewhat eased into the U.S. Open on Pinehurst No.2, I am not saying it was easy but there wasn't too much carnage on the leaderboard (unless your name is Viktor Hovland (+8) or Justin Thomas (+7) and the cut line looks like it will be around four shots less than the +8 at Lancaster Country Club.

Sitting at the top of the leaderboard of the 124th U.S. Open are two Major hunters, one looking for his first whilst the other is looking to break a 10-year drought without one.

Cantlay puts hard work into action

American Patrick Cantlay only had one blemish on his card at the par-3 15th to shot a round of 65 and be one shot clear at five-under-par. Cantlay comes into the week after missing the cut at the Memorial Tournament and only two top 10s from 13 starts this year. It appears that finally the hard work to get his game back in shape is paying off:

"I've been working really hard on my game, and usually when you make just a couple changes and you're working really hard, it's just a matter of time."

Patrick Cantlay putts on the sixth green during the first round of the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & C.C. (Course No. 2) in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Thursday, June 13, 2024. (Logan Whitton/USGA)
Patrick Cantlay - image credit Logan Whitton/USGA

Bogey-free for McIlroy a good omen?

Although the scores are the same, Rory McIlroy went one better by producing a bogey-free 65, which included chipping in for birdie on the par-5 5th hole.

"You've got to get lucky," said the Irishman. "I had a lot of really good numbers today where I could just go ahead and hit full shots. Whenever you're hitting full shots into these greens, the ball is going to stop a little quicker than if you have to take something off or hit little three-quarter shots. Some days you have good numbers and some days you don't, and for the most part today, I've had good numbers.

"The Major championships that I've won or the ones that I've played well at, I've always seemed to get off to a good start, and it's nice to get off to another one."

We're not getting too ahead of ourselves as it is only the first round but it is worth noting that:

Aberg playing in his first U.S. Open

One shot back at four-under-par is Ludvig Aberg, what may be surprising to many is that this is his first U.S. Open. Nearly a year to the day that he turned professional, the Swede teed it up in only the third Major of his career. With six birdies and two bogies, hitting every fairway in regulation and nearly every green, his first experience of a U.S. Open couldn't have gone much better.

Ludvig Åberg plays a shot on the 16th hole during the first round of the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & C.C. (Course No. 2) in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Thursday, June 13, 2024. (Kathryn Riley/USGA)
Ludvig Åberg - image credit Kathryn Riley/USGA

"I'll absolutely take it. I'm very, very pleased obviously. I wouldn't want to do it again. No, super happy with the way we hit it. Super happy with the execution today. I felt it was really nice and very encouraging. All we can try to do is keep it up and make sure that we're ready to go tomorrow."

DeChambeau and Pavon tied for fourth

With an early tee time, which could mean slightly softer green conditions, Bryson DeChambeau will be looking to build on his three-under-par first round.

"Those greens, oh, my gosh, they can get away from you, especially on 9. I had that 40-footer straight down the hill. If you hit it two feet past the hole, that thing is back up the green chipping up 40 yards. It's really diabolical out there. It was a testament to the patience I had, G-Bo helped provide me. I was very pleased to get it in that 3-under and hopefully some softer conditions can help tomorrow. We'll see where that leads."

Also at three-under-par and in a share of fourth is Matthieu Pavon who had a first round that included two eagles on five and ten. Talking about his two eagles after his round, the Frenchman said:

"It's funny because they pretty much come when you don't really expect them. We know how tough can be the course and even if you go in two for the par-5s you really have to put the ball in the right spot, and this is all I tried, and I kind of succeed. Dropped some very nice putts today, too, so really a good day."

Sergio Garcia goes bogey-free

Rounding off the top 10 are three players at two-under-par, Tony Finau, Tyrrell Hatton and Akshay Bhatia and seven players at one-under-par, which includes a name we haven't seen for a while near the top of the leaderboard, Sergio Garcia. Garcia, who is competing in his 25th consecutive U.S. Open, got into the field on Monday as one of four alternates added from final qualifying. After a bogey-free round, does he have anything to prove this week?

Sergio Garcia tees off on the seventh hole during the first round of the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & C.C. (Course No. 2) in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Thursday, June 13, 2024. (Jeff Haynes/USGA)
Sergio Garcia - image credit Jeff Haynes/USGA

"No. I mean, I love what I do, which is playing golf. I'm a competitor. I try to do it the best I can. Do I have to prove anything? No, of course not. Would I like to play better and better every day? Of course I would. Who wouldn't. When it comes down to proving things, I don't think so. I think I've done well enough."

With weather conditions set to be similar to Thursday and the USGA's ability to set up the course to be more difficult, it will be interesting to see how the players mentally plot their way around Pinehurst No.2, as the cut line becomes clear and players try to fulfil their Major hopes and dreams.

View the full 124th U.S. Open leaderboard here. Live coverage continues on Sky Sports Golf from 12:30pm BST.