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McDowell shares lead at US Open

TIGER Woods missed two short putts in the finishing stretch in completing a 4-over 74 that left him five shots off the pace among early first-round finishers at the weather-delayed US Open in Farmingdale, New York, yesterday.

Briton Graeme McDowell and amateur Drew Weaver, 22, were in the clubhouse on 1-under par 69 with several other players 1-under on the course after the resumption of Thursday's washed out opening round at Bethpage Black.

"If the forecast we've got right now for Saturday and so on were absolutely accurate ... yes, absolutely finishing on Sunday would be borderline impossible," said Mike Davis, the US Golf Association's senior director of rules and competition.

The last time a US Open finished on Monday without a playoff was 26 years ago.

McDowell was 1-over through seven holes on Thursday after starting from the 10th. The Northern Irishman returned to birdie the par-3 17th, the par-4 second and par-5 fourth before dropping a stroke with a bogey at the sixth.

"Coming back this morning we were unbelievably surprised at how good the ground staff had prepared the course," McDowell told reporters about a layout submerged by 1.5 inches of rain.

Three birdies

Weaver, who was 2-over par after playing 10 holes on Thursday, made three birdies on his way in to match McDowell. World No. 2 Phil Mickelson had just teed off as the second wave of the first round were setting off at Bethpage. Once those players finish their opening round, they will go back out after a short break to begin their second rounds. The earlier starters were done for the day.

Woods dipped to 2-over when he missed an 8-foot par putt with his first stroke after play resumed for the 78 golfers on the course in Thursday's morning wave when heavy, persistent rain halted the action.

The world No. 1 hauled himself back to level par with a tap-in birdie at 11, where his approach shot nearly hopped in the hole for eagle, and another at the 14th.

A drive into the rough started his troubles at 15 which culminated in double-bogey after he lipped out a 3-footer. He missed a 4-foot par putt at the 16th and then bogeyed 18 after missing an 8-foot putt for par after a poor chip.

"Overall the golf course was playing a little more difficult today," Woods said. "I had a mud ball three times. I was even par with four to go and I was right there where I needed to be. Two bad shots and a mud ball later and here we go on four over par," he said.


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