McDowell thrives, Tiger stumbles

Graeme McDowell made a key move, but Tiger Woods had a nightmare finish as round one of the rain-hit US Open resumed.

Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell took a share of the clubhouse lead at Bethpage Black today as defending champion Tiger Woods suffered a nightmare finish to his delayed first round at the US Open.
The on-form McDowell, coming off a final-round 63 at the St Jude Classic in Memphis last Sunday, posted a one-under-par 69 after opening-round play resumed this morning following yesterday’s washout on Long Island.
That gave him a share of the early clubhouse lead alongside American amateur Drew Weaver, although yesterday’s late-starting half of the draw were finding conditions much easier as they finally got their first rounds under way in overcast but warm conditions.
The Northern Irishman was certainly not getting carried away.
“I’ve led a few majors after day one,” McDowell said. “It’s not really what I’m trying to do.
“I’m just trying to stick around for the weekend. I’m trying to position myself as well as I possibly can and compete on Sunday afternoon.”
Soren Hansen of Denmark birdied his first two holes before a bogey at the third checked his progress, and America’s Sean O’Hair took over as the tournament leader at two under after three holes.
That could spell trouble for world number one 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.
“I was even par with four to go,” Woods said. “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.”
With play washed out after just three-and-a-quarter hours yesterday, there was a blanket restart at Bethpage Black this morning after groundstaff worked right up until the players resumed their rounds to get the waterlogged par-70 course up to scratch.
Not that it bothered McDowell. Playing the back nine first in his opening round,
he restarted with a birdie at the par-three 17th, his eighth hole of the day, and followed suit at the par-four second and par-five fourth to move to two under par.
A bogey at the par-four sixth dropped the Portrush man back into a tie with Weaver and Martin as conditions became easier and birdies began to creep onto scorecards.
That was not the case for Woods and reigning Open and US PGA champion Padraig Harrington.
The world number one missed an eight-foot par putt at the seventh with his first stroke of the day to fall to two over par while Ireland’s Harrington also made a bogey at the hole and then bogeyed the ninth after tangling with the rough off the tee.
Six over became seven at the 12th but the Dubliner picked up back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14 and was back to five over with four holes to play.
Woods also clawed his way back from two over, with birdies at the 11th and 14th to get to level par, but then both major champions double-bogeyed the par-four 15th to swing once more into reverse gear.
Woods kept going in the wrong direction but Harrington finished with a birdie at the last having got out of trouble from a fairway bunker with a wedge to 12 feet.
All four overnight leaders gradually fell off the pace with Americans Jeff Brehaut and Ryan Spears, Canada’s Andrew Parr and Sweden’s Johan Edfors all dropping shots, Brehaut and Edfors finishing best with level-par 70s.
England’s Ian Poulter also came home in even par while compatriot Lee Westwood shot a 72, but world number three Paul Casey will need to get back on track tomorrow when their half of the draw is set to begin its second round.
The Englishman posted a three-bogey, one double-bogey 75.