Saturday 24 February 2018

Dunne and McDowell find the going tough

Paul Dunne will likely need a sub par round today to make the cut. Picture credit: Bill Murray / Sportsfile
Paul Dunne will likely need a sub par round today to make the cut. Picture credit: Bill Murray / Sportsfile

Brian Keogh

The US Open finds a way of exposing every weakness in your game and Paul Dunne confessed that his driving was below par as he opened with a three-over-par 75 at Erin Hills.

As Graeme McDowell struggled to a 76 on the other side of the course, Dunne's hot putter kept him near the top of the leaderboard at one-under through six holes before the deep fescue rough took its toll.

"I just didn't drive the ball that well, for the first maybe 11 holes," the US Open debutant said after mixing a lone birdie at the second with four bogeys in his last 12 holes.

"I holed a few nice putts at the start to keep myself in it and then made three bogeys from bad drives and another one from just nowhere really.

"I gave myself a lot of chances for the last seven holes - I had six good chances, and missed them all."

Dunne holed a five-footer for a par at the first after pushing his drive into deep rough, a 12-footer for birdie at the second and an eight-footer at the third before brilliantly pitching dead at the fourth to save par after a pushed drive forced him to lay up.

He made another 10-footer for par at the 252-yard sixth but finally dropped a shot at the 604-yard seventh where he was bunkered off the tee and tugged his third 20 yards left of the green into deep rough.

After back to-back bogeys off further poor tee shots at the 10th and 11th, he passed up chances on the next five greens before missing a five-footer for par at the 17th after overshooting the green.

"I just missed putts coming in, could have finished level par really. The driver was the problem for the first 11 and the putter then for the last seven," he lamented.

Dunne will likely need a sub-par round today to make the cut but he sounded confident, adding: "You don't have to chase out there to shoot three under, the chances kind of come at you."

McDowell turned in two-over-par 38 after three bogeys and a solitary birdie at the par-three second.

Then, as the wind got up, he failed to get up and down for par at the third before dropping another shot at the short 13th, where he flew into the back bunker.

"I did not play well, simple as that", McDowell said. "It does not matter what golf course you are on, if you do not play well you are going to have problems.

"I got off to a bad start with the driver and then started to get the ball in play a bit more but then started to feel uncomfortable on the greens.

"I just don't feel that my prep was that perfect this week. I played both nines at couple of times but I never saw much of this wind direction we had out there this morning.

"Then the storm we had yesterday just knocked my last nine holes out of whack and what I had planned for the afternoon.

"So, a little bit of bad golf combined with a little bit of under prep, and that equates to my score."

After congratulating Rickie Fowler as he walked to the scorers hut after a 65, McDowell added: "It is clear by the score Rickie shot that there is a score out there and I hit enough good shots out there to give me something to grab onto tomorrow.

"But for now, I am just disappointed as it was not the start I was looking for."

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