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McIlroy in hunt as Weir sparkles

Rory McIlroy showed tremendous mental strength during his opening round at the US Open yesterday to finish two over.

While Graeme McDowell impressed on his way to one under, his fellow Ulsterman dug deep after several setbacks at Bethpage.

After a nightmare beginning, his third straight birdie at the sixth hole brought him back to one over.

In testing conditions, McIlroy held his nerve to birdie the 13th hole and then par the last five holes.

It proved to be a day of very mixed fortunes for the 20-year-old as he carded four birdies and four bogeys. McIlroy wasn’t allowed much rest though as he teed off on his second round late last night.

Mike Weir shot a 64 to take the clubhouse lead. The 2003 Masters champion from Canada posted eight birdies undone by a double bogey at the par-four sixth hole to sign for a six under par round, two shots clear of Sweden's Peter Hanson with former world number one David Duval three shots behind following a 67. It could have been much better for Weir as he reached the sixth, his 16th of the round, at six under and on course for a US Open record round of 62. The six at the sixth put paid to that but he rallied with a birdie, birdie finish.

Former world number one Duval, who suffered an alarming dip in form following his victory at the 2001 Open Championship at Lytham, had led a charge among the second wave of starters in the 156-man field as they finally got their first rounds under way in drying conditions on still soft greens. Those conditions helped the late starters at Bethpage Black steal a march on their earlier rivals when American amateur Drew Weaver and McDowell were the only two players under par.

McDowell, coming off a final-round 63 at the St Jude Classic in Memphis last Sunday, posted a one-under-par 69.

World number one Tiger Woods, who had been at level par with four holes to play but finished his round with a run of double bogey, bogey, par, bogey to leave him with a four-over 74.

Woods said: “I was even par with four to go, and I was right there where I needed to be, and two bad shots and a mud ball later, here we go and I'm at four over par.”

Belfast Telegraph


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