England's Aaron Rai impresses on US Open debut

England's Aaron Rai impresses on US Open debut

England's Aaron Rai enjoyed a great start and even better finish to his major championship debut in the first round of the US Open on Thursday.

Rai, who has recorded two victories on the Challenge Tour this season, was in the third group out at 7:07am local time and birdied the par-five first to claim an early share of the lead.

The 22-year-old from Wolverhampton then fell down the leaderboard with bogeys on the fifth, seventh, 14th and 15th, but rounded off the day in style with an eagle on the 18th after hitting a three-wood approach from 290 yards to six feet.

"It was great," Rai told Press Association Sport after signing for an opening one-over-par 73. "The atmosphere was amazing.

"Even though we were out very early in the morning there were good crowds from the very start. A lot of the grandstands had quite a few people in as well and you heard some pretty loud noises around the course.

"It was an amazing experience although I wasn't aware of sharing the lead after one hole - maybe 71 holes early!"

Rai booked his place at Erin Hills by winning the 36-hole international qualifying event at Walton Heath and another win on the Challenge Tour would secure automatic promotion to the European Tour.

"It's been a fantastic season so far, I couldn't have asked for anything more," added Rai, whose Kenya-born mother was on site to witness his victory in the Barclays Kenya Open in March.

"You have to treat each tournament as similar as possible.

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