• US Open, Round One

Donald and McIlroy endure horror opening round

ESPN staff
June 15, 2012

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World No. 1 Luke Donald made a disappointing start the US Open as he shot a nine-over 79 on Thursday to sit 13 strokes behind leader Michael Thompson in San Francisco, while Rory McIlroy also struggled.

Donald, who is aiming to win his first major title, made a horror start to the round, carding bogeys on the opening two holes as his putter failed to fire on the opening day. The Englishman appeared to have steadied himself by saving par on the third and fourth, but his short game let him down again as he recorded another two bogeys on the front nine.

It was more of the same on the back nine as Donald struggled to come to terms with the Olympic Club's long par-fours. He dropped further shots at 10, 11, 13, 14 and 16 to plummet to 141st on the leaderboard before restoring some hope of making the cut by sinking par putts on the final two holes.

Donald's top-ranking rival Rory McIlroy fared little better to commence his title defence, shooting seven-over, and he too will require an impressive second round to qualify for the weekend. McIlroy's round also got off to a shaky start, as a dreadful putting stoke saw him drop a shot on the first hole.

McIlroy recovered to narrowly miss a birdie attempt at the second but, like Donald, the front nine proved to be a battle as he slumped to four-over at the turn. A birdie at the par-three 13th appeared to signal a shift in McIlroy's fortunes, however inconsistent iron play saw him end the day with bogeys at 15, 17 and 18.

Thompson, though, blitzed the field early on, firing in seven birdies en route to a four-under 66. The American is three strokes ahead of his nearest rivals, who include England's Justin Rose, Tiger Woods, David Toms, Nick Watney and Graham McDowell of Northern Ireland.

Rose seemed destined to follow the path of Donald and McIlroy as he dropped shots on the second and third holes, but he would not card another bogey for the remainder of his round in his push to one-under. McDowell, meanwhile, was solid throughout before making a late surge with birdies on the final two holes.

Ian Poulter is a further shot adrift, with an outrageous eagle on the par-four seventh the highlight of the Brit's round. Sweden's Robert Karlsson also sits at even-par, alongside Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk.

Lee Westwood was left to rue a stuttering start as he dusted himself off after a double-bogey at the first to move to three-over at the end of play. Westwood's expert birdie putt on the 17th saw him join Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel and Keegan Bradley, one stroke ahead of compatriots Matthew Baldwin and Simon Dyson.

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