Paul Dunne lost his driving mojo and Graeme McDowell simply failed to spark as they left themselves in danger of missing the cut in the US Open.
Debutant Dunne confessed that his driving was below par as he opened with a three over par 75 to finish alongside world No1 Dustin Johnson as McDowell simply failed to get anything going and closed with a bogey for a 76.
With light winds and soft greens leading to a rash of birdies for the morning starters, Dunne and McDowell were praying for afternoon wind last night before they attempt to climb back inside the top 60 and ties today.
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 on the 24-year old Wicklow man.
“I just didn’t drive the ball that well, for the first maybe 11 holes,” Dunne 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 8-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 was disappointed not to take chances on the next five greens before missing a 5-footer for par at the 17th after overshooting the green.
Another bunkered tee shot at the par-five 18th, where he felt he could reach the green in two with an iron, meant he had to settle for a closing par.
“The one bogey I made on 17, I hit a good shot in from 192 eight-iron airmailed the green and missed one for par,” said Dunne.
“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.”
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. We’ll see tonight.”
McDowell’s putter was an ally early on and he did well to turn in two over 38 after three bogeys and a solitary birdie at the par-three 13th. But as the wind picked up, he failed to get up and down for par at the third before dropping another shot at the short ninth, where he flew into the back bunker.
“I did not play well and as simple as that,” said McDowell. “It does not matter what golf course you are on because if you do not play well you are going to have problems.
“I got off to a bad start with the driver and then I kind of started to get the ball in play a bit more but then started to feel uncomfortable on the greens.”
Eleven shots behind early leader Rickie Fowler, who shot 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.”
Asked if he saw the blimp crash in flames, McDowell said: “No. I saw it in the air but did not know what happened and it was amazing to learn that no one was hurt.
“So, there you go, I shot four over and others are jumping out of blimps to save their lives.”
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