US Open 2012: Luke Donald toils on day one at the Olympic Club
World No1 Luke Donald is left to play catch-up after a disastrous opening round in the US Open at the Olympic Club
World No1 Luke Donald will have to play catch-up at the US Open after he posted a disappointing first round score at the Olympic Club on Thursday.
The 34-year-old capitulated to a nine over par score of 79 to all but end his chances of winning the tournament on a day which was characterised by big name struggles.
Perhaps the players were caught off-guard by just how difficult the Olympic Club is to negotiate as Donald, Rory McIlroy, Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson were all caught out by the narrow fairways and small, razor-sharp greens with almost unreachable pin placements.
One favourite who did perform on the opening day was Tiger Woods – the former US Open champion looked in imperious form, hitting an extremely solid one under par round to tie for second place behind clubhouse leader Michael Thompson – the 500/1 outsider who hit an exceptional score of 67 to steal the show from the bigger names.
It wasn’t all bad news for the Europeans though, even if the pre-tournament favourites slipped away – Justin Rose looked extremely assured and carded an extremely competitive score of 70 to tie with Woods in second place.
Joining that group is 2010 US Open winner Graeme McDowell, who was little fancied before the tournament began.
The Northern Irishman is known for being a player who thrives under pressure and relishes the chance to prove his doubters wrong – the last round of the 2012 Ryder Cup is evidence of this.
It would also be impossible to review the opening day without mentioning Andy Zhang. The 14 -year-old became the youngest player to compete in the modern day US Open and performed admirably in his first round by hitting a ten over par round of +10.
While that score may look anything but promising, this was an occasion which could have completely overwhelmed the young player with the entire world watching.
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that the lesser backed players seem to be performing well so far.
Olympic has developed a reputation as a place where underdogs usually excel, and the last time the US Open visited the course, complete outsider Lee Janzen was crowned champion.
Unless Woods can move clear of the pack, there remains the possibility of an upset at Olympic, which could live up to its reputation as a “graveyard for champions” – anything could happen.