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Poulter pleased with solid round at US Open

England's Ian Poulter was happy to limit his round to a couple of bogeys as he took a share of the clubhouse lead following his opening round at the 110th US Open in California on Thursday.





With the second wave of starters, including world numbers one and three Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood, negotiating their front nines, Poulter finished his opening round with a one-under-par 70 featuring three birdies and two bogeys.

That gave him the clubhouse lead alongside Korea's KJ Choi, Canada's Mike Weir and Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello on a day of difficult scoring as Pebble Beach's small greens firmed up further on a cool, dry morning.

"I just played really solid," world number eight Poulter said. "I didn't miss many greens and drove it well.

"I gave myself plenty of looks from the right side of the pins. You need to do that around this golf course. It's all about distance control with your irons. You can drive it well and have a few looks at birdie and you can put together a good score.

"One under is a good score today.

"If you're going to limit your bogeys to two a day around this golf course, you're going to have a lot of shortish iron shots...and I think that's probably five or six chances out there."

Paul Casey, one of four Englishmen in the world's top 10 at ninth, and Canadian-based compatriot Matthew Richardson were the best of the late starters early in their rounds at two under after six and three holes respectively, while Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell was one under after eight holes.

Woods and Ernie Els were at level par after four while their playing partner Westwood was having a more difficult time at two over, having bogeyed the first and third holes.

Woods parred his opening four holes while Els bounced back from an opening bogey by holing out from a greenside bunker at the second hole.

Poulter, one of 38 Europeans in the field bidding to be the first to win the US Open since Tony Jacklin in 1970, had recovered from a bogey at the second hole to get to two under in a four-way tie for the lead with Choi, former Masters champion Weir and American David Toms, the former USPGA winner.

Spanish debutant Cabrera-Bello, from the Canary Islands, carded his 70 and then saw the leaders come back to him as Choi bogeyed the famous par-three 17th and Poulter bogeyed the par-five 14th.

Weir joined them with bogeys on his last two holes but Toms fell off the pace with three bogeys in a row before finishing with a level-par 71, alongside world number six Luke Donald of England, whose round featured two birdies and one double bogey.

Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen ended with a 72 having been an early leader at three under.

Ireland's three-time major winner Padraig Harrington and Masters champion Phil Mickelson endured frustrating rounds but will not be too distressed to be sitting three and five shots off the lead following a 73 and 75 respectively.

Harrington, just three weeks on from undergoing minor knee surgery, had a three-birdie, five-bogey round while five-time US Open runner-up Mickelson, who turned 40 on Wednesday, went birdie-free for his 75, one of his bogeys coming at the 18th - his ninth - when the left-hander's second shot bounced off the sea wall down the left and into the ocean.

"It's just frustrating because I came in here prepared," Mickelson said.

"I hit a lot of good shots today, gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities and putted terribly."

Playing partner Harrington added: "It did look as if things were going the wrong way when it felt like the scoring should be better.

"It evens out at the end of the day but certainly when I was four over par I didn't feel so good."



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