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Rory's US Open dream gets blown off course

 

By Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy had to settle for a pat on the back from Shane Lowry after he soared to a 10-over 80 - his highest score in a major- in a US Open demolition derby on Long Island.

Like playing partners Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth, who shot rounds of 77 and 78 on a day of attrition, the Holywood star was so bitterly disappointed that he declined to speak to the media afterwards.

Trudging back to the players' lounge to lick his wounds, he stopped to relate his tale of woe to Lowry after Shinnecock Hills took its toll on the best players in the world and he finished the day 11 strokes behind early leaders Ian Poulter and Scott Piercy.

His 10-over round matched the eight-over 80s he shot in the second round of The Open at St Andrews in 2010 and, famously, in the final round of the 2011 Masters.

But given his pre-tournament confidence, this was arguably even more disappointing.

On a day when a westerly wind gusting to 25mph made Shinnecock Hills massively testing, Bubba Watson matched Mickelson with a 77 as Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel crashed to 79s and former British Amateur champion Scott Gregory slithered to a 92.

McIlroy stuck to his game plan and played conservatively from the tee.

But his swing let him down in the stiff crosswind, and after tangling too often with the thick fescue, McIlroy couldn't save himself with the putter.

Poulter and Piercy, on the other hand, were thrilled to shoot one-under 69s and lead by two strokes from 2013 champion Justin Rose, relatively unheralded Frenchman Matthieu Pavon and American hopefuls Charles Howell III and Charley Hoffman.

A delighted Poulter said after his round: "It was extremely difficult.

"To come off the golf course under par is extremely satisfying."

Belfast Telegraph

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