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Graeme McDowell ignites Open qualification bid with fine opening round in Canada

Graeme McDowell birdied three of his opening five holes in Ontario.
Graeme McDowell birdied three of his opening five holes in Ontario.
Rory McIlroy in action at the Canadian Open.

Graeme McDowell has fired himself into contention during a crucial week for his Open Championship qualification hopes.

The 39-year-old has yet to secure his place at next month's Open Championship at Royal Portrush but he can do just that with a successful week at the Canadian Open in Ontario.

Needing to finish in the top 10 and as one of the top three unqualified players, McDowell carded a five under par opening round 65 to sit just two shots behind leader Keegan Bradley in a tie for sixth.

McDowell got off to a stunning start with three birdies in his opening five holes. A bogey at the seventh provided only brief performances as further birdies at the 10th, 17th and 18th shot the Portrush well up the leaderboard.

McDowell is two shots ahead of Rory McIlroy, who is in a tie for 24th after an opening 67 at Hamilton Golf and Country Club.

Starting at the 10th, McIlroy was two under par at the turn after birdies at 10, 14, 17 and a drop shot at the 12th.

Back-to-back birdies at holes three and four had McIlroy -4 with five holes to play but a bogey at the seventh saw the Holywood man slip back.

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