How Team USA stands after Day 1 of 2020 Olympics

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Despite boasting three of the four players in the field, not a single American is inside the top 10 after the opening round of the Olympics.

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed led the way for Team USA on Day 1, with each carding a 3-under 68 that put them in a tie for 12th, five shots off the lead of Austria’s Sepp Straka.

Open champion Collin Morikawa turned in a 69, while Justin Thomas made par on all 18 holes for a 71.

SCHAUFFELE (-3, T-12)

Schauffele, whose grandparents live in Tokyo and who has visited the country more than a dozen times, took advantage of the scoreable conditions but dropped a shot on the last when he couldn’t get up-and-down from left of the green. He described his score as “OK” and figured he’d need to clean up a few things if he wanted to chase down Straka and the other contenders.

If nothing else, Schauffele was looking forward to a better night sleep: He said an overnight storm knocked out the power (and thus the AC) for about five hours on Wednesday night; once the emergency light kicked on, his caddie had to sleep in his hotel room with the lights on. That's particularly rough considering the warm, humid weather right now in Tokyo. 

REED (-3, T-12)

Reed tied the best score of the Americans, which is even more impressive considering he was playing the course for the first time.

As a last-minute addition to Team USA following Bryson DeChambeau’s withdrawal because of COVID-19, Reed didn’t arrive in Tokyo until Wednesday and only toured Kasumigaseki Country Club via a golf cart. He drove around the last four holes in the dark.

Powered by adrenaline, Reed dropped only two shots – likely the result, he said, of not knowing where to miss – while carding five birdies. Though he can lean on his teammates for tidbits of advice, he said he and coach/caddie Kevin Kirk were mostly on their own because the others play a different game: Thomas hits it farther; Morikawa plays cuts to Reed’s draws; and Schauffele spins his irons more.

Though he started feeling jetlag during the weather delay, he pushed through to keep himself in the mix for a medal.

“The body hung in there a lot better than I expected,” he said.   

MORIKAWA (-2, T-20)

Just a week and a half removed from his stirring Open victory at Royal St. George’s, Morikawa wasn’t as sharp tee to green and settled for a sub-70 score on Day 1. Morikawa saw his driver going left on the back nine – a concerning sign for a fader of the ball – and hoped that he’d have the issue fixed on the range Friday morning before his second round.

“Hope to play a little better in the middle of the fairway the next few days,” he said, “but the swing feels fine, so it’s something just really small, maybe just a timing thing.”

THOMAS (E, T-41)

The world No. 3 perfectly summed up his initial Olympic experience in one word: “Par.”

Eighteen of ’em, in fact.

On a day ripe for scoring, with warm temperatures, little breeze and receptive greens, Thomas never could get it going, signing for an even-par day that put him eight back.

The no-birdie round was especially surprising for a player like Thomas, who ranks 14th on Tour in birdie average (4.19). He was second on Tour in that statistic last season.

“I would love to have some kind of old useless club that I could break over my knee right now,” a clearly frustrated Thomas said afterward. “You’ve got to stay patient and trust the process, but it obviously is annoying when I’m not really seeing the results and things that I feel like the work I’m putting in. But I’m getting closer.

“You get on these runs sometimes and it sucks so bad when it’s doing that. But sooner or later, maybe it will just take one day and they will fall in for me and I’ll get hot. It doesn’t feel as far off as it looks.”

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