Friday, 19 March 2010
Retief Goosen launched his defence of the US Open Championship with a two under par 68 to lie just one stroke off the first round pace at Pinehurst No.2, North Carolina.

Goosen, who currently tops The European Tour Order of Merit, birdied the fourth, tenth and 13th holes before dropping his first and only shot of the round on the 14th to head The European Tour challenge alongside England’s Lee Westwood, who matched Goosen’s 68.

Another Englishman Luke Donald, widely tipped to do well this week, shot an opening 69 to lie in the group at one under par and just two off the lead held by Americans Olin Browne and Rocco Mediate.

Goosen said: "I hit 16 greens in regulation, made three fairways, and three of them were in the semi and 32 putts or something like that wasn't really the way I want it, but hopefully we'll get better as the week goes on.

"The golf course is only going to get tougher as the week goes on. If I can keep striking the ball solid and keep it in play, we can try for Sunday."

Westwood, who has been suffering from a chest complaint and was kept up for most of the night, holed some great putts in a run of five successive threes from the 13th.

"I thought it was sunstroke yesterday when I felt ill practising, but I think it's going from the heat into air-conditioning," he said.

"I didn't feel too great when I got up and for this event you want to be fully fit, but I played well. Any time you shoot two under at a US Open you've got to be pleased."

Level par with six to play, he birdied the 378 yard 13th and then rolled in a 60 foot putt on the next. The 16th is probably the hardest hole on the course, but he made a 30 footer there.

Donald, playing with Masters Champion and World Number One Tiger Woods, overshadowed the American, who shot a 70, will a cool display round the tight US Open venue.

The Englishman, ranked 12th in the World, almost holed his pitch to the 13th before dropping two shots in quick succession. He found the left rough at the 16th before chipping over the green and then three-putted the next for another bogey.

Unflappable by nature, though, he birdied the first and fourth and came back from another dropped shot at the fifth with another birdie on the eighth.

Donald said afterwards: "I was a little bit heavy-handed on the 16th and 17th - they were clumsy bogeys - but overall I'm very happy with that."

Australian Adam Scott bogeyed two of his last four holes for a level par, a score matched by Fiji's Vijay Singh, who is aiming to add the US Open title to his Masters and two US PGA titles.

Ernie Els, looking for his third US Open title, carded an opening one over par 71, as did fellow European Tour Member, Peter Lonard, of Australia.

Thomas Bjorn, Angel Cabrera, Michael Campbell adn Sergio Garcia all came in later in the day on the same mark after consistent opening rounds.

Debutants Jonathan Lomas, Nick Dougherty shot 72, as did Colin Montgomerie after a disappointing bogey on the final hole following an impressive fightback, while another player making his debut, Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell shot 74.

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