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Dublin: 19 °C Thursday 22 August, 2019
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"Dream start" as McDowell launches US Open defence

The 2010 Champion posted a one-under par round of 70 on the opening day at the Congressional Country Club.

Image: Evan Vucci/AP/Press Association Images

AN OPENING ROUND bolstered by twelve successive pars helped settle any pre-tournament jitters which Graeme McDowell may have been feeling as the Portrush man launched the defence of his US Open title at the Congressional Country Club today.

Last year’s winner was among the first groups out on course in Bethesda, Maryland this afternoon as the season’s second Major began under the gaze of dark skies and some light drizzle.

An opening bogey was followed by two quick birdies before McDowell launched into his blemish-free streak, finishing the day with a one-under round of 70, two shots off the clubhouse lead currently held by 2009 PGA Champion YE Yang.

“It’s a dream start and I’m happy with it,” the 31-year-old said afterwards.

“I felt really good this morning. I set myself some challenges – to think well, go through my process and keep patient.

I’m very happy with the way I played. I drove it beautifully and I positioned the ball really well. I hung tough and gave myself some chances. No one’s going crazy and this course will get tougher and tougher. I’m just really happy with the way I played and I need to continue that.

Rory McIlroy, one of the pre-tournament favourites, teed off for his first round at 6.35pm Irish time but he will have been heartened by the performance of his Irish colleagues on day one.

Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington carded a level par round of 71, missing the chance to join McDowell at one-under after he failed to save par with the penultimate shot of his round at the monstrous ninth hole. Shane Lowry is a further shot back on one-over par.

Afterwards, a disappointed Harrington reflected on what might have been, saying “I’m disappointed with the score – whenever you bogey the last hole is disappointing.”

“I hit my irons well and created plenty of chances for birdies. I recovered well at times. The course is playing nice if you play it down the fairway. There are half a dozen tough holes and you’re under pressure to hit the fairways. The greens are receptive and it’s an ideal day for golf.”

Overall I’m still struggling but good in practice. I’d like to see something fall in place. It was hard work at times.

South African Louis Oosthuizen and Ryan Palmer are sitting right behind Yang at the top of the clubhouse leaderboard, one shot adrift on two-under par.

Follow the livescores here >

US Open: your hole-by-hole guide to the Congressional Country Club >

Congressional: How will the Irish quartet fare in the US Open? >

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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