By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO -- Several hours before his tee time in the first round of the U.S. Open, Graeme McDowell told his friends on Twitter that he was watching the TV broadcast to get a feel for the competition and the course.
"Looks tough but good golf gets rewarded," he tweeted.
McDowell was particularly interested in the way Tiger Woods was making his way around The Olympic Club on the way to a 69. The Northern Irishman was similarly steady on Thursday afternoon, making birdie on his last two holes to join Woods in a tie for second, three strokes off the lead.
"I saw the way Tiger kind of played this golf course, and he played it very I think workman-like would be the way I would describe his round,' McDowell said. "He just did what this golf course asks you to do. ... You just got play very disciplined golf and I did that well today."
McDowell knows U.S. Open golf, too. He won the 2010 national championship when it was played at Pebble Beach, about two hours south of San Francisco. He likes courses like The Olympic Club that demand a player use his head as well as his clubs.
"There's not often you play a golf course like this and there aren't really many options, you just got to stand there and hit certain shots at the right times and some pins out there today you could go at and some pins that you couldn't go at," McDowell said. "The greens are just rock hard. You really got to respect the first bounce on these greens. And there's just places on these greens you just can't miss the ball."
McDowell, who hit 10 fairways and 12 greens, actually had four good looks at birdie in his final holes. He missed birdie putts of 8 and 12 feet at Nos. 15 and 16, then got up and down from a greenside bunker at the par-5 17th and make his 29th putt of the day count at the last as the 15-footer dropped into the hole.
"I felt like I squeezed as much as I could out of that round," McDowell said. "... It's a tough test out there. But, yeah, just I hung in well with the putter. It's funny, I left a few birdie chances out there, on 15, 16, but a couple of key par saves. So no, I'll take my 1 under and run.
McDowell played well early in the year, finishing second to Woods at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard, and just last month he was runner-up at the Volvo World Match Play. But McDowell, who missed his last two cuts on the PGA TOUR, hasn't won on either side of the Atlantic since 2010 so he hopes to build on Friday’s solid play.
"I've been hitting the ball pretty quell well and not scoring well and today it was today was a lot more disciplined golf and a lot more focused golf and probably the best tee to green I've hit it in a few months," McDowell said. "... My caddie said if you can't draw some confidence out of this round today, there's something wrong with you. So I think I know what he was getting at -- take the positives and try to feed that back into the game again."
"So that was good today."