NORTHERN Ireland’s Graeme McDowell felt his patient approach to taking on the testing Pinehurst course was key to his two-under par round of 68 on day one of the US Open.
The 2010 champion recovered from a bogey at the fourth hole to roll in an eagle at the fifth, then picked up a further shot with a birdie at the 14th to keep in touch with outright leader Martin Kaymer on five under par.
McDowell said: “I spent the last few days just preparing myself mentally for the challenge, knowing that this golf course wasn’t going to give much and it was only going to take.
“I’m very pleased. It wasn’t my best ball-striking display, but you don’t have to strike it amazing round here, just position the ball correctly at times.”
Defending champion Justin Rose shot three birdies in the first five holes, but finished at two-over par.
England’s Paul Casey was level with McDowell, while amateur compatriot Matthew Fitzpatrick threw away an early share of the lead with three bogeys in the final five holes to end on one over par, the same score as Rory McIlroy.