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US Open: Ewen Murray on tough start for Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods

10:56 am, 15th June 2018

If I’m being honest, the scoring was around what I expected. Only four players finished the day under par and it could’ve been worse if we hadn’t had the rain on Wednesday to soften it up.

I was very impressed with Russell Henley, who has got a good short game and good golfing brain, while Ian Poulter plays well on difficult courses and has the right mental attitude to perform here over the four days.

Dustin Johnson is very much man in-form after his win in Memphis last week and let’s not forget about the other man tied at the top, Scott Piercy, who wasn’t even initially in the field and also came second to DJ when he won this event in 2016.

The pin positions were generally very severe, with a couple of easier ones and maybe as many as a dozen that were in their No 1 spot. They’ll be carefully selecting Friday’s pin placements to try and get the scoring down a little.

Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy were a combined 25-over-par in their group and we know they’re capable of much better than that, but I did feel that McIlroy showed a little bit of inexperience during the opening round.

McIlroy got off to the bad start like so many others did, but I then felt he pushed the pedal down immediately to try and get the shots back. This was a day when you weren’t going to do that, you instead needed to stem the flow.

If McIlroy had signed off the round with a 76, he would’ve only been seven shots off the pace and would’ve still have had a chance of winning with three holes to go. Can he after an opening 80? I don’t think so. He’s going to need something in the 60s, which is going to be a big ask.

Tiger Woods did what McIlroy didn’t, because when he got off to the bad start he took his foot of the pedal to get some pars on the card. I was really impressed with how he played after those opening two holes.

It was a poor approach to the first on his way to a triple-bogey, which was the kind of mistake we’re not used to seeing Woods make. He drove the ball beautifully and hit some wonderful iron shots, but then had a short game which was arguably at the worst it has been for a long time.

That’s strange, because when he came back last year the short game was still there when the long game wasn’t. Woods can take from today how well he struck the ball and if he hadn’t had the two sixes in the middle of the back nine, he would’ve been around the 76 mark which wouldn’t have been far from par for today.

I think Woods might find a low round on Friday and I’m also hopeful McIlroy may do the same too. Are they too far back now? That’s the question.

Watch the US Open throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Friday from 1pm on Sky Sports US Open.