Friday, June 15

McDowell Sparkles While McIlroy Flames Out

By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF


Brian Keogh is a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a contributor to The Irish Times, Golf Digest Ireland and other golf publications. The following excerpt from Brian’s Irish Golf Desk is used with permission.

Graeme McDowell (Allison)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - A grinding Graeme McDowell birdied his last two holes for a one-under 69 that left him tied for second and just three shots off the lead after a punishing opening day at the US Open on a hard and fast Olympic Club.

But while the 2010 champion proved he’s one of the toughest and cleverest operators out there, defending champion Rory McIlroy showed that he’s got a lot to learn about grinding out a score as he slumped to a seven-over 77 that leaves him in danger of missing the cut.

The 23-year old world No 2 promised before the start that he would attack the course with his driver and try to glean as many birdies as possible to offset the inevitable bogeys. But he was never in position to do that and made just one—at the par three 13th—and hit just seven fairways in his worst opening round as a professional for more than five years.

McIlroy also took the option not to face reporters after his round and instead made his comments to a USGA official in private, explaining that he simply could not get himself in position to score.

Playing in the marquee afternoon group with world No 1 Luke Donald and No 3 Lee Westwood, few would have predicted that they would make just three birdies between them. Westwood had two in a three-over 73 while Donald had none in a lackluster 79.

“I didn’t I got off to a decent start and then it’s just so tough here if you put yourself out of position at all,” said McIlroy, who bogeyd the first, fifth, seventh, ninth and 12th before making his only birdie of the day at the 13th. “It’s so tough to make your pars from there.”

McDowell got off to a great start on the tougher front nine when he parred his first six holes and followed a bogey at the driveable seventh with a great par save at the eighth, where he pulled his tee shot well left but holed an 18 footer for his par. A bogey at the 12th left him one over par but he dug deep and finished in style with birdies at the 17th and 18th.

Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.

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