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Dunne and G-Mac struggle to stay among pacesetters

By Brian Keogh

The US Open finds a way of exposing every weakness in your game, and Paul Dunne confessed that his driving was below par as he opened with a three over par 75 at Erin Hills.

As Graeme McDowell struggled to a 76 on the other side of the course, Dunne's hot putter kept him near the top of the leaderboard at one-under through six holes before the deep fescue rough took its toll.

"I just didn't drive the ball that well for the first maybe 11 holes," the US Open debutant said. "I holed a few nice putts at the start to keep myself in it and then made three bogeys from bad drives and another one from just nowhere really."

Dunne holed a five-footer for a par at the first, a 12-footer for birdie at the second and an eight-footer at the third before brilliantly pitching dead at the fourth to save par.

He made another 10-footer for par at the sixth but finally dropped a shot at the seventh.

After back to-back bogeys at the 10th and 11th, he failed to take chances on the next five greens before missing a five footer for par at the 17th after overshooting the green.

Another bunkered tee shot at the par-five 18th, where he felt he could reach the green in two with an iron, meant he had to settle for a closing par.

"The bogey I made on 17, I hit a good shot in from 192, eight-iron airmailed the green and missed it for par," Dunne said.

"I just missed putts coming in, could have finished level par really. The driver was the problem for the first 11 and the putter then for the last seven."

McDowell turned in two-over-par 38 after three bogeys and a solitary birdie at the par-three second. Then, as the wind got up, he failed to get up and down for par at the third before dropping another shot at the short 13th, where he flew into the back bunker.

"Felt uncomfortable on the track today and just didn't play well. Not a good combo! I will reset, grind and get back at it again tomorrow," McDowell commented on Twitter.

The day had started with confirmation that Phil Mickelson would miss the US Open for the first time since 1993 after the good weather ended his slim chances of making a last-minute dash to Erin Hills.

The 46-year-old needs to win the US Open to complete the career grand slam, but announced earlier this month he would likely miss the event to attend the high-school graduation of his daughter Amanda, which he confirmed early yesterday morning.

• Ulster duo Paula Grant and Olivia Mehaffey will go head-to-head in today's third round at the Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship in Wales.

Lisburn's Grant finished top of the strokeplay portion of the event before seeing off Dane Cecilie Finne-Ipsen and England's Rochelle Morris in the first two matchplay rounds to reach the third at Pyle & Kenfig Golf Club.

Mehaffey, from Royal County Down, defeated Scot Chloe Goadby and fellow Irish hopeful Mairead Martin to set up another all-Irish tie with Grant today.

The only other Irish woman to reach the last eight is Slieve Russell's Leona Maguire, who finished tied-seventh in the strokeplay qualifying round.

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