US Open: Séamus Power learns how Pinehurst gives and takes in opening 71

Brilliant hat-trick of birdies helps Waterford golfer get over four-putt double-bogey in opening round

Ireland's Séamus Power hits his drive from the 11th tee during the first round of the US Open at Pinehurst in North Carolina. Photograph: Sean M Haffey/Getty Images

Séamus Power discovered the vagaries of the Pinehurst No. 2 course at first hand, how its Jekyll and Hyde nature could deflate one moment and elate on another.

On the 18th green, the ninth of his opening round, the K Club-attached Waterford man hit an approach to 35 feet to set up an outside birdie chance. Four putts later, with no place to hide and a double-bogey six to finish his outward run, Power sucked in the humid air, raised his shoulders, and walked away to the nearby first tee.

“I still don’t really understand it,” said Power, competing in his third US Open. “My speed was excellent ... it was straight uphill into the grain but it really took off. It was a pity because there are no many putts you feel you could take a run at and I thought that was one of them. I guess it wasn’t.”

And a bogey on the second hole – where he was in a bunker off the tee and found a greenside trap with his next – could have stopped him in his tracks. It didn’t.

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Those speed bumps brought a fantastic reaction from Power as he reeled off three straight birdies from the third to the fifth holes – a rare hat-trick – that saw him recover ground and ultimately sign for a one-over-par 71.

“Me and Simon [Keelan, his caddie] decided to be a bit more aggressive off the third tee just to get a bit further up. Where that pin was, at least you’d have a chance there. I actually pulled it slightly, hit it close and ended up making a great birdie on the next and got up and down on the par five [fifth]. It was a nice little run there right when I kind of needed it.

“To get back to plus-one, you feel like you’re at least not out of it. So, it was a good way to hang in there,” said Power, who planned to work on some things to sharpen up rough edges. “It’s one of those courses you really have to fight to stay in there because, if it gets away from you, it can be so hard to get it back. It’s great not to be out it.”

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times