Shane Lowry two shots off the lead at US Open

Offaly man finishes first round on two under but Rory McIlroy struggles at Oakmont

 

Shane Lowry is in a tie for third place but it was a different story for Rory McIlroy struggled who to a seven over round of 77 as the players returned to a soggy Oakmont Country Club with a marathon day shaping up at the weather-hit US Open. Lowry finished on two under par, just two behind the surprise clubhouse leader Andrew Landry, the 29-year-old continuing his trend of shooting low scores in the first round.

“I’ve just not been able to put four rounds together and I don’t know the reason for that,” said Lowry, who shot 65 in the Phoenix Open and Players Championship, a 67 in the Honda Classic and 68 in the US Masters.

“Weeks like this I tend to get my head around it. I know it’s going to be tough going and you are going to miss greens and make bogeys so maybe when I am like that I can accept bogeys a little easier.”

When play was finally suspended on Thursday after thunderstorms had caused three weather delays in the year’s second major championship, Landry was lining up a 10-foot birdie putt on his final hole, the par-four ninth. After returning to a rain-softened and receptive course on an overcast Friday morning, the 28-year-old coolly sank the putt to card a four-under 66 for an early one-stroke lead.

England’s former world number one Lee Westwood was alone in second place after making birdies on his last two holes for a 67 while Lowry carded a 68. Among the other big names in the field, defending champion Jordan Spieth opened with a 72, 2011 winner McIlroy struggled to a 77 that included eight bogeys and US Masters champion Danny Willett returned a 75.

Landry’s opening round was the lowest ever in a US Open played at Oakmont, eclipsing the 67s shot by Ben Hogan in 1953 and Gary Player in 1973.

“Just making putts,” Landry explained when asked what had been the key to his impressive start in his first US Open. “Game all-around was sharp, from tee to green to chipping to everything you do. I think the US Open just suits my game so well that I’m just able to manage these things because I’m not a guy that’s going to go out and shoot 60 and 61 and 62.

“I’m just a consistent guy that’s going to shoot 68 and make a lot of pars.”

Landry, who earned his spot at Oakmont via a sectional qualifier in Memphis, said he had spent very little time thinking about his birdie putt overnight. “I just kind of thought about it this morning a little bit,” he smiled. “I read the putt yesterday. I knew what it was doing.

“I knew it was a cup-and-a-half out to the right, so no big break. It was a pretty easy putt to make if you get the speed right.”

Bubba Watson launched his US Open title bid with a 69, finishing level with fellow Americans Kevin Streelman and amateur Scottie Scheffler, and New Zealand’s Danny Lee. With only nine players having completed the opening round on Thursday, organisers are scrambling to get the tournament back on track and hope to get the second round finished by early afternoon on Saturday. Weather conditions are expected to improve with mainly sunshine forecast for the weekend.

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