Japan's Satoshi Kodaira was making the biggest move of the day, opening with back-to-back birdies and adding two more at 11 and 12 to reach three-under for the championship, four back of the pacesetters.
Fowler made a smart decision before even teeing it up this week.
Paul Casey was at 7 under after a 71 in the second round.
"Showed up for the last six holes, anyway", said the four-times major victor, who made four birdies on his second nine, including his finishing hole, the par-three ninth. However, he then birdied 17 through to the third and parred out the remainder of his round for a 71 and two round total of 137.
That's just the kind of start Fowler was looking for in his quest for his first major championship.
"I showed up for the last six holes, anyway", he said.
It mightn't be the shot that wins Scott the tournament, but if the Aussie does go on to do anything in the second major of the year, he'll look back at this as one of the pivotal moments. He also had the most top-10 finishes in the same span with 4, peaking in 2011 and 2013 when he ended up tied for 2nd place.
Jason Day, of Australia, hits from a bunker on the eighth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Thursday, June 15, 2017, at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis. He still went out in even-par 36 and was one shot behind Rickie Fowler, who plays in the afternoon.
Fowler birdied three of his first five holes and kept rolling en route to a bogey-free 7-under 65 and a one-shot lead following Thursday's opening round at Erin Hills Golf Club.
"I hit the fairway on the 10th", McIlroy said, "and I didn't hit one on the way in". "If you read my post, it says I love the design".
"There's nothing I can hide behind", Day said.
On the golf course, there was only a barrage of birdies. "I just didn't make anything".
McIlroy, however, who had come into the tournament from an injury layoff after a niggling rib problem, said he was encouraged by his performance.
McIlroy, who hit just five fairways to tie for last in the 156-man field in that category, said: "I don't think I hit a fairway from the 10th and you can not play this golf course if you are not in position off the tee". "I just played some bad golf".
"Really?" an incredulous McIlroy said. But I think at the end of the day it's competitive rounds with a card in my hand that I need and I've been very light on them this year.
Day, who won the 2015 PGA Championship up the road at Whistling Straits, had to birdie his last hole Thursday to break 80.
Another warm, dry day is drying out the course, and the players are noticing a difference.
"I don't look at that stuff", Na said of the social media blitz.
"The biggest thing about this course is that the fairways are massive".
"I didn't see seven under at the start of the week, but today is the best we are going to get. The execution was not there".