In this case, it seemed to be worth more than two-under par on the hole because it changed the tenor of Reed’s day. Wobbling at one-over par through six holes, Reed closed with three birdies on the back nine to shoot a four-under 66 at the fearsome Winged Foot course, finishing the day just one stroke behind the first-round leader Justin Thomas.
With its pin placements in relatively benign spots on the treacherous greens, Winged Foot was not nearly as penal as it will be in the closing rounds. Thomas’s round of 65, which included six birdies, was the lowest score in a U.S. Open at Winged Foot, which is hosting the championship for the sixth time.
Twenty other players were under par, including 21-year-old Matthew Wolff, who also shot a 66. Thomas Pieters, who missed the cut in his two previous U.S. Opens, was tied with Wolff and Reed.
But many of the most notable players in the field struggled. Tiger Woods, who had three bogeys on the front nine and three birdies after the turn, double-bogeyed the 18th hole to finish three over par. Phil Mickelson, seeking to avenge his 18th-hole collapse and second-place finish in 2006, shot a 79. Collin Morikawa, the winner of the P.G.A. Championship in August, shot a 76. Dustin Johnson, the world’s top-ranked player, joined Woods at three over par.
Though Reed had never played Winged Foot before this week, he has become a fan.
“I love hard courses,” he said with his customary, full-throated self-assurance. “It separates the top golfers compared to the rest of the field. Also, it separates the guys that can use creativity and can handle adversity.”
Reed had begun the round cautiously, but especially after the hole-in-one, he started firing at pins.
“He said it’s his second hole-in-one since he turned professional,” Spieth said. “Which surprises me with how he attacks golf courses.”