US Open: Amateur Drew leads with McDowell, Tiger struggles

US AMATEUR Drew Weaver, who narrowly escaped the deadliest shooting in American history, completed a one-under 69 first round yesterday to share the clubhouse lead at the US Open.

Weaver, the 2007 British Amateur champion, and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell seized the early edge with most of the field of 156 on soggy Bethpage Black after torrential rain limited play on Thursday to barely three hours.

“I want to prove I belong out here. I’ve got what it takes and today was a good start,” Weaver said. “It feels great. It was a good round. I’ve got a lot of confidence. I’m playing well. I’m in a good rhythm and hitting good shots.”

A super group of reigning major champions featuring defending champion Tiger Woods, British Open and PGA Championship winner Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Masters champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina struggled yesterday morning.

World number one Woods took a double bogey at 15 and bogeys on 16 and 18 to finish with a 74, five off the pace. Cabrera made the last of his six bogeys at 18 to also finish on 74. Harrington birdied 18 to conclude a shocking 76.

“I hit a lot of good shots. Unfortunately I didn’t finish off the round the way I would have liked,” Woods said. “No, I don’t want to go back out there now. I would be a few clubs short.”

Weaver, 22, was a student at Virginia Tech in April of 2007 and barely 100 yards from entering a hall when a gunman began shooting inside the building.

“We heard the shots and just freaked and ran for cover,” Weaver said. “It was kind of terrifying.”

The rampage saw 32 people killed by an outraged student. Two months later, Weaver won the British amateur and dedicated his triumph to the victims.

McDowell started yesterday at the 10th and was one-over after eight holes, then returned to birdie the par-three 17th, par-four second and fourth before a bogey at the sixth set him back.

“It’s nice to get my work done and get out of here and conserve my energy a little bit,” McDowell said.

Bogeys outpaced birdies by nearly a five-to-one margin in miserable conditions on Thursday, but conditions improved yesterday, although the only man on the course atop the leaders was Dane Soren Hansen, who opened with birdies on 10 and 11.

US star Phil Mickelson, Australia’s Adam Scott, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and South Africans Ernie Els and Retief Goosen were among 78 players who finally began their opening rounds yesterday morning. — AFP

Completed first round scores (US unless stated, a denotes amateur; 78 players yet to complete their round): 69: Drew Weaver (a), Graeme McDowell (Nir); 70: Jeff Brehaut, Ian Poulter (Eng), Ryan Moore, Johan Edfors (Swe), Cameron Tringale (a); 71: Michael Sim (Aus), John Mallinger, Vijay Singh (Fij), Justin Leonard, Kevin Sutherland, Francesco Molinari (Ita), Ryan Spears, Ben Martin (a); 72: Ben Curtis, Rory Sabbatini (Rsa), KJ Choi (Kor), Jim Furyk, Lee Westwood (Eng), Bubba Watson, Trevor Murphy; 73: Casey Wittenberg, Bo van Pelt, Henrik Stenson (Swe), Steve Stricker, Geoff Ogilvy (Aus), Tim Clark (Rsa), Anders Romero (Arg), John Merrick; 74: JP Hayes, Sang Moon-bae (Kor), Luke Donald (Eng), Angel Cabrera (Arg), Tiger Woods, Rod Pampling (Aus), George Mcneill, Bronson Burgoon (a), Craig Bowden, Chris Kirk, Andrew Parr (Can); 75: Simon Khan (Eng), Charlie Wi (Kor), Ryuji Imada (Jpn), Robert Allenby (Aus), Paul Casey (Eng), Zach Johnson; 76: Heath Slocum, Martin Kaymer (Ger), Padraig Harrington (Irl), Eduardo Romero (Arg), Ben Crane, Ken Duke, Vaughn Snyder (a);

77: Angelo Que (Phi), Richard Bland (Eng), Jose Manuel Lara (Spa), Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa), Michael Campbell (Nzl), Michael Miles, Josh Mccumber, Nathan Tyler;

78: Rickie Fowler (a), Clinton Jensen, David Erdy (a), Simon Dyson (Eng), Kevin Silva; 79: Greg Kraft, Eric Axley, Boo Weekley; 80: Drew Kittleson (a), Chad Campbell, Andrew Svoboda, Sean Farren; 81: David Horsey (Eng), Scott Lewis (a); 83: Josh Brock (a).

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