US OPEN GOLF: Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are off the psace after first round

Graeme Mcdowell reacts to a shot on the 15th hole
Graeme Mcdowell reacts to a shot on the 15th hole

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell both got off to awful starts at the US Open at Erin Hills on Thursday.

Rory finished on six over par in his opening rounds after hitting an eagle at the second - while McDowell ended up in the clubhouse on four over par after hitting a 76.

McDowell, who won the tournament in 2010, carded five bogeys in his opening round.

And he was far from happy with his opening 18 holes.

“I felt uncomfortable on the track today and just didn’t play well. Not a good combo! Reset, grind and get back at it tomorrow,” he added.

The early leader is Rickie Fowler who made light of the longest course in major championship history as he hit seven birdies in a flawless opening 65.

That equalled the lowest score in relation to par in the first round of a US Open, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf having both shot 63 in the first round on the par-70 layout at Baltusrol in 1980.

“It’s always cool to be part of some sort of history in golf, but I’d rather be remembered for something that’s done on Sunday,” said Fowler, who finished in the top five in all four majors in 2014 but has yet to win one of the game’s biggest prizes.

“I didn’t see seven under at the start of the week, but today is the best we are going to get. I just kept making putts when it mattered. It was nice. You don’t get many rounds at the US Open that are stress-free. I knew I needed to drive it well and from there was just able to manage hitting and continuing to swing well and hitting good shots and rolling a couple in.”

He is two shots clear of compatriots Brian Harman and Brooks Koepka and England’s Tommy Fleetwood, with Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed on four under. Lee Westwood was a shot further back, but defending champion one Dustin Johnson struggled to a three-over-par 75.