The four-time tour victor is playing in his 10th U.S. Open, an event he's finished in the top-10 in twice, but has missed the cut in his last two appearances.
Opening with the back nine, Fowler played that nine in a sublime 32, 4 under par. On that Sunday, he shot 76, finished 11th and made one of the world's all-time understatements: "Bogeying the last three holes didn't help".
Golfer Brandt Snededker said he spotted something while on the course.
The most damaging hole was early in his round when Johnson hit iron off the tee on the par-5 14th, only to lay up in grass so thick that a marshal marked it with a tiny flag, and then it was hard to find the flag.
Fast start: Marc Leishman of Australia.
"But if I just make one or two of the good looks I have, it's a couple under".
Jordan Spieth and Martin Kaymer - the champions of 2015 and 2014 respectively - shot 73 and 72 respectively in the company of Johnson.
Johnson may deserve a pass since he arrived late for preparations at Erin Hills to be on hand for Monday's birth of his second child with partner Paulina Gretzky in California.
Blimp goes down at US Open golf tournament in Wisconsin
Justin Maynard, a sales manager for AirSign, the advertising company that operates the blimp, said only the pilot was on board. The Federal Aviation and Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have been called to investigate the crash.
Six times a runner-up at the U.S. Open, Mickelson skipped another chance at completing a career grand slam when it became obvious Mother Nature was not going to cooperate and delay the start of the opening round.
The year's second major started without Phil Mickelson, the five-times major victor withdrawing to attend his daughter's high school graduation.
Only a lengthy weather delay - and there have been several already this week - would have given the five-time major victor a chance of being at the ceremony and then flying by private jet from California to Wisconsin.
Masters victor Sergio Garcia and world number two Rory McIlroy had afternoon tee-times scheduled.
Fowler said that matching the Open record on Thursday was "cool, but it's just the first round".
Fowler said he felt a round like this coming "because I've been swinging really well".
"There's plenty of room out there, plenty of opportunities". "I didn't play that bad".
The course was set up at 7,845 yards, the longest of any major.
A course traditionally plays its easiest in the first round, getting progressively firmer as the week progresses before reaching its crescendo of crispiness.