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US Open: Ian Poulter shares clubhouse lead as Rory McIlroy struggles at Shinnecock Hills

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Ian Poulter

Ian Poulter shares the clubhouse lead during the first round of the US Open but Rory McIlroy had a round to forget.

England’s Poulter is tied at one under par with American Scott Piercey after rounds of 69 at a windy Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in New York state.

Northern Ireland’s McIlroy had three double bogeys in a 10-over-par 80, while Americans Jordan Spieth (78) and Phil Mickelson (77) also struggled.

England’s Justin Rose, US Open champion in 2013, opened with a one-over 71.

  • Follow live text commentary of the first round with three-time US Open champion Tiger Woods and world number one Dustin Johnson among the later starters.

Patient Poulter pleased

Chasing what would be a first major success, Florida-based Poulter holed three birdies, including after hitting the flag with his tee shot on the short 11th. He impressively shipped just two bogeys on a day when the average score was more than 76.

The 42-year-old made his US Open debut at Shinnecock Hills in 2004, but missed the cut after finishing the first two rounds on six over.

“I didn’t enjoy it at all, I have to say,” he recalled.

“I haven’t enjoyed very many, to be honest. They’re difficult, they’re hot, they’re stressful. It feels like you’re pulling teeth every single hole you play.

“I’ve changed my mindset. I’m here to enjoy my golf this week, to play freely. If I hit it in the rough, I hit it in the rough. I’m going to try and make par the hard way. It’s difficult for everyone. Today is just a good day, and I’ve got three tough days left.”

Worst opening round for McIlroy

Four-time major champion McIlroy said he was hopeful a lengthy preparation process would help his chances of winning a second US Open title.

But any benefit from 18 out of 19 days of practice after finishing tied for eighth at the Memorial Tournament at the start of June quickly faded.

McIlroy, starting at the 10th, opened with a par, but was six over after five holes and seven over at halfway.

That became 10 over after 11, and despite successive birdies on the fifth and sixth, two further dropped shots over his last two holes saw the world number six card his worst opening round in a major championship.

It was McIlroy’s third 80 in a major and leaves him in danger of missing Friday’s halfway cut at the US Open for a third consecutive year.

Englishmen (and a couple of Scots) in New York

World number three Rose missed just one fairway during his first round, which included two birdies.

“I didn’t quite realise how good a 71 was until I got in. A lot of big name players are struggling,” said the Englishman.

Compatriots Paul Casey, Andrew Johnston and Matthew Fitzpatrick and Scotland’s Russell Knox all opened with respectable rounds of 73.

Tyrrell Hatton and 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett shot 75, as did Scotland’s Calum Hill, who, playing his first US Open, was briefly tied for the lead on two under at one point.

Matthew Southgate and Matthew Wallace both finished seven over, Tom Lewis was nine over and amateur Harry Ellis matched McIlroy’s 80.

Scott Gregory props up the field after two triple bogeys, three doubles, 10 bogeys and three pars added up to +22.

Analysis

BBC Radio 5 live golf commentator Iain Carter, at Shinnecock Hills

Precision and patience are the prerequisites for Shinnecock Hills, especially in such breezy conditions.

McIlroy was bereft of the former, hitting only five greens in regulation. His usual strength off the tee deserted him. Out of position so frequently, it was impossible to make a competitive start.

By contrast Poulter missed only three fairways and maintained control of his ball throughout a superbly composed round to provide the best US Open start of his career.

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