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Blistering start for McDowell at US Open as McIlroy keeps in close quarters

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Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland watches his tee shot on the eighth hole 
during the first round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament in Pinehurst, North Carolina

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland watches his tee shot on the eighth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament in Pinehurst, North Carolina

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland watches his tee shot on the eighth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament in Pinehurst, North Carolina

Graeme McDowell began his quest to claim a second US Open in impressive style at Pinehurst in North Carolina.

McDowell is looking to emulate his success at Pebble Beach four years ago and shot a 68, including an eagle at the fifth, to move into an early share of the lead, before Martin Kaymer overtook McDowell to lead on -5 by the end of play.

His playing partner Rory McIlroy also made an encouraging start with a one over round of 71, including eight straight pars on the back nine.

McDowell hit just one bogey and saved his best for last. Sitting in the sandy rough at the 18th, he landed the ball within 18 foot of the pin before the cruel roll left him at the bottom of the undulated green. He safely negotiated a two-putt for par and a share of the lead with American Kevin Na.

"I wouldn't say I flushed it round there today but you don't have to, you just have to stay in the right places," McDowell told Sky Sports. "I managed to sneak a rare eagle at the 5th. But I won't hit the ball much better than I did today.

"It's going to be a real tough test this week, it's going to be dig, dig, dig. I can't wait for the ball to cheer me up, that's not going to happen. The 18th was the first time I found myself in one of the waste areas today, but got very lucky as I had a clean lie.

“I hit a three hybrid about as good as I can hit it. Apparently I got a bit unlucky where it stopped, but I'll take it.”

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