Wednesday 23 May 2018

Donald gets off to solid start at Merion

Luke Donald after a putt on the fourth green during the first round of the US Open
Luke Donald after a putt on the fourth green during the first round of the US Open

Phil Casey

Luke Donald today remained on top of the leaderboard as the delayed first round of the 113th US Open resumed on a cold, overcast morning at Merion.

Donald birdied the 11th, 12th and 13th before play was suspended for the day due to darkness on Thursday evening after two delays for bad weather totalling more than four and a quarter hours.

That gave the world number six a one-shot lead over five-time US Open runner-up Phil Mickelson, who had completed an opening three-under 67 to set the clubhouse target, with Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts (69) the only other player to complete a sub-par round.

Play resumed at 7:13am this morning and Donald parred the difficult 14th and 15th holes - where Sergio Garcia hit consecutive drives out of bounds to run up a six and an eight respectively - to remain four under.

Playing partner Lee Westwood did likewise to remain one under, the former world number one saving par on the 15th after finding a fairway bunker off the tee and coming up short with his approach.

Westwood had been sharing the lead yesterday when his third shot to the par-four 12th clattered into one of the wicker baskets used at Merion instead of a standard flag and rebounded back off the front of the green, leading to a double-bogey six.

Donald also looked set to safely negotiate Merion's tough closing stretch, only to three-putt the 16th and 18th and was forced to settle for a two-under 68.

That left Mickelson out in front once more, although Australia's Mathew Goggin was two under with six holes to play.

Westwood bogeyed the 17th on his way to a 70 and afterwards gave a pointed response when asked about hitting the wicker basket on the 12th yesterday.

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson was the rules official with his group and Westwood said: "Peter Dawson has assured me we will be going back to flags for the Open Championship, like normal people."

Press Association

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