Rory McIlroy’s US Open bid opened in nightmare fashion at Shinnecock Hills with his worst opening round ever in a Major championship.
The four-time Major champion entered the tournament in confident fashion and finished his first hole with a par.
However, he stood six over by five holes and seven at the halfway point before successive birdies signalled a mini-recovery.
Two dropped shots across the closing two holes left the Northern Ireland favourite on 80 for the third time in his Major history.
Since winning in 2011 with a record score of 16 under, McIlroy is a combined 53 over par in the US Open and three double bogeys marked another unwanted first on Thursday.
He now stands on the verge of missing today’s halfway cut for a third consecutive US Open.
However, winds gusting up to 30mph made scoring difficult across the field for the 118th US Open.
“I did not enjoy it at all here in 2004 and through most of the US Opens it feels like you are pulling teeth,” said Ian Poulter, who claimed a share of the clubhouse lead off his one-under-par 69 alongside Scott Piercy. “It’s supposed to be tough but this week I’ve changed my mindset. I’m here to enjoy my golf, play freely and just go and play.
“It was brutal out there and I’m glad they have widened the fairways otherwise I don’t know what the scores would have been.”
Poulter - who hit the pin with his tee shot on the par-three 11th - wore a broad grin when he summarised the set-up as “brilliant” after breaking 70 on the opening day for the first time at this event.