Presnell surprises at US Open

Friday, 15 June 2012
Alistair Presnell
Alistair Presnell

Alistair Presnell's dream run has continued at the US Open on Thursday (local time) as the Australian qualifier found himself just four strokes off the pace as the world's best golfers struggled for traction in San Francisco.

Having made it through a sectional qualifier in Houston last week to simply qualify for the Open, Presnell produced two birdies and two bogeys in his even-par 70 first round at the Olympic Club to be in an eight-strong group tied for seventh.

Presnell's efforts were made more extraordinary by the fact there are only six players ahead of him including Tiger Woods (one-under) and leader Michael Thompson, who recovered from being two over to post a four-under 66 on Thursday.

Presnell is two strokes ahead of the his nearest compatriot, John Senden, who endured an inconsistent round that featured three birdies and five bogeys.

Rod Pampling is in a tie for 52nd a further two strokes back at 74, one ahead of Jason Day and Aaron Baddeley, while Adam Scott, Geoff Ogilvy, Brendan Jones and surprise Aussie entrant Anthony Summers - who won the sectional qualifier in Chicago last week - all found themselves on six over after the first day, victims of the toughest test in golf.

Scott's day started poorly with two bogeys and just continued to get worse as he posted eight bogeys and two birdies in his round, leaving him 10 strokes off the pace set by surprise leader Thompson.

Thompson, a qualifier who was runner-up at the US Amateur Championship held at The Olympic Club five years ago, used his knowledge of the course to advantage as the majority of the high-quality field failed to get going.

Woods is one of five players at one-under, three shots off the pace, after managing a 69 as he continues his search for a 15th major and first since the 2008 US Open.

Joining him in a tie for second are American countrymen David Toms and Nick Watney, who holed the third albatross in US Open history, as well as England's Justin Rose and 2010 champion Graeme McDowell from Northern Ireland.

Tied for seventh a further shot back are Americans Matt Kuchar, amateur Beau Hossler, Jason Bohn and Jim Furyk, South Korea's Park JB, Swede Robert Karlsson, England's Ian Poulter and Presnell.

But Thursday belonged to 27-year-old Thompson, who started with a bogey at the first when he missed the green, but a birdie on the par-three third - when he holed from a greenside bunker - looked set to kick-start his round.

Bogeys on holes five and six followed, and they were the last of his blemishes as he went on to grab six birdies on his last 12 holes.

Woods bogeyed the 14th, only to respond with a birdie on the 522-yard par-five 17th, and he picked up shots on the fourth and fifth holes before another bogey on the sixth.

Watney produced what was undoubtedly the shot of the day on the 17th, holing his five-iron 190-yard second shot for an albatross.

World number one Luke Donald, still searching for his first major, carded a nine-over 79 to be tied for 141st and in danger of missing Friday's cut.

It was a forgettable day for the Englishman, who finished alongside Chinese amateur Andy Zhang, 14, the youngest player to ever compete the US Open, on the leaderboard.

In Donald's group, defending champion Rory McIlroy, the world number two, signed for a seven-over 77, while England's Lee Westwood (three-over) was the best of the trio.

Playing alongside Woods were the long-hitting Bubba Watson (eight-over) and long-time rival Phil Mickelson (six-over).

Watson's round was his equal worst ever at a major, while Mickelson's 76 matched his worst US Open first round.

Top-10 players Hunter Mahan and Jason Dufner (both two-over) also battled, while Dustin Johnson (five-over) is even further back.

 




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