US Open: Ian Poulter shares one shot first round lead as Rory McIlroy struggles at Shinnecock Hills

By Andrew MullenBBC Sport
Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter's tie for second place at the 2008 Open is his best performance at a major champoinship
US Open, first round
-1 S Piercy (US), I Poulter (Eng), R Henley (US), D Johnson (US); level J Dufner
Selected others:+1 J Rose (Eng), H Stenson (Swe); +2 A Noren (Swe); +3 P Casey (Eng), A Johnston (Eng), R Knox (Sco), M Fitzpatrick (Eng), R Cabrera Bello (Spa); +5 T Hatton (Eng), D Willett (Eng), T Fleetwood (Eng), S Garcia (Spa), F Molinari (Ita); +6 R Fisher (Eng); +7 M Southgate (Eng), M Wallace (Eng), R Ramsay (Sco);+8 J Spieth (US), R Evans (Eng) P Waring (Eng), T Woods (US) J Rahm (Spa); +9 T Lewis (Eng), Graeme McDowell (NI); +10 H Ellis (Eng), R McIlroy (NI); +22 S Gregory (Eng)
External leaderboardexternal-link

Ian Poulter shares a one-shot lead at the US Open but Rory McIlroy had a first round to forget in strong winds.

England's Poulter shot a 69 to tie with world number one Dustin Johnson, Scott Piercy and Russell Henley on one under at Shinnecock Hills in New York state.

McIlroy had three double bogeys in a 10-over-par 80, while Americans Phil Mickelson (77), Tiger Woods (78) and Jordan Spieth (78) also struggled.

England's Justin Rose, US Open champion in 2013, opened with a one-over 71.

Only the four leaders bettered par with American Jason Dufner heading the chasing pack at level par after a testing first round in difficult conditions on Long Island.

There were 200 double bogeys or worse on day one - compared to 212 for the entire tournament in 2017 - as players faced a combination of wind, punishing rough and testing pin positions. The field's combined score was more than 1,000 over par.

Fresh from winning last week's St Jude Classic, Johnson had progressed to three under after 11 to challenge the clubhouse lead held by early starters Poulter and Piercey, but the American dropped two shots on the back nine.

"In conditions like this you know par on every hole is a good score," said Johnson. "To play a real solid round in tough conditions, I am very proud of myself."

Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods
Johnson and Woods had wildly differing rounds on day one at Shinnecock Hills

Three-time US Open champion Woods rallied to stay in contention after starting with a triple-bogey seven and a bogey at the second. He steadied his round with a birdie and seven pars but successive double bogeys on the back nine wrecked his card.

"I didn't putt well. I drove it pretty good for most of the day, just never took advantage of the opportunities," said the 42-year-old.

Patient Poulter pleased

Chasing a first major success, Poulter holed three birdies, including after hitting the pin with his tee shot on the short 11th. He impressively shipped just two bogeys on a day when the average score was more than 76.

The 42-year-old made his US Open debut at Shinnecock Hills, but missed the cut in 2004 after finishing the first two rounds on six over.

"I didn't enjoy it at all, I have to say," he recalled of his first visit.

"I haven't enjoyed very many US Opens, to be honest. They're difficult, they're hot, they're stressful. It feels like you're pulling teeth every single hole you play.

"I've changed my mindset. I'm here to enjoy my golf this week, to play freely. If I hit it in the rough, I hit it in the rough. I'm going to try and make par the hard way. It's difficult for everyone. Today is just a good day, and I've got three tough days left."

Worst opening round for McIlroy

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy, who visited the rough regularly in round one, is trying to win a first major since 2014

Four-time major champion McIlroy said he was hopeful a lengthy preparation process would help his chances of winning a second US Open title.

But any benefit from 18 out of 19 days of practice after finishing tied for eighth at the Memorial Tournament at the start of June quickly faded.

McIlroy, starting at the 10th, opened with a par, but was six over after five holes and seven over at halfway.

That became 10 over after 11, and despite successive birdies on the fifth and sixth, two further dropped shots on his last two holes saw the world number six card his worst opening round in a major championship.

It was McIlroy's third 80 in a major and leaves him in danger of missing Friday's halfway cut at the US Open for a third consecutive year.

Englishmen (a few Scots and a Northern Irishman) in New York

Justin Rose with caddie Mark Fulcher
Rose and caddie Mark Fulcher plotted their way round Shinnecock Hills in fine fashion

World number three Rose missed just one fairway during his first round, which included two birdies.

"I didn't quite realise how good a 71 was until I got in. A lot of big name players are struggling," said the Englishman.

Compatriots Paul Casey, Andrew Johnston and Matthew Fitzpatrick and Scotland's Russell Knox all opened with respectable rounds of 73.

Tyrrell Hatton, 2016 Masters champion Danny Willett and Tommy Fleetwood shot 75, as did Scotland's Calum Hill, who, playing his first US Open, was briefly tied for the lead on two under early in his round.

Ross Fisher finished at six over, Matthew Southgate, Matthew Wallace and Richie Ramsay at seven over and Ryan Evans and Paul Waring at eight over.

Tom Lewis, Graeme McDowell and James Morrison were at nine over, amateur Harry Ellis matched McIlroy's 80 and Scottish amateur Ryan Lumsden finished at 12 over.

Scott Gregory props up the field after two triple bogeys, three doubles, 10 bogeys and three pars added up to +22.

Decent reading for captain Bjorn

With September's Ryder Cup starting to loom, captain Thomas Bjorn will want to see his European players challenging in the majors.

Sweden's Henrik Stenson is joined at one over by little-known world number 213 Matthieu Pavon from France, with Alex Noren well placed at two over.

Spain's Rafa Cabrera Bello ended three over with playing partner and compatriot Sergio Garcia (75) also well in contention. However, the third Spaniard in the group, Jon Rahm, shot 78 after missing a two-foot putt on the last to finish with a double bogey.


BBC Radio 5 live golf commentator Iain Carter, at Shinnecock Hills

Precision and patience are the prerequisites for Shinnecock Hills, especially in such breezy conditions.

McIlroy was bereft of the former, hitting only five greens in regulation. His usual strength off the tee deserted him. Out of position so frequently, it was impossible to make a competitive start.

By contrast Poulter missed only three fairways and maintained control of his ball throughout a superbly composed round to provide the best US Open start of his career.


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