Chopra birdies all par-fives to lie 31st at US Open

June 13th, 2008 - 1:42 pm ICT by IANS  

San Diego (California), June 13 (IANS) Daniel Chopra, the only Indian connection in the US Open golf championship, nailed all three par-fives for birdies as he recovered from a disastrous start to finish with a two-over 73 that placed him tied 31st at the end of the first round at the US Open at the par-71 Torrey Pines on Thursday. The Indo-Swede, who in his only previous appearance at the US Open finished 24th at Shinnecock Hills in 2004, opened with a double bogey and another bogey to be three-over after seven holes. Then started his recovery as he found his first birdie on the par-five ninth hole. He again dropped bogeys on par-fours 12th and 15th, but also landed birdies on par-fives on the 13th and 18th for a creditable 73.

A former Asian Tour winner, Chopra, who was raised in India, was five shots behind co-leaders, Kevin Streelman and Justin Hicks, both little-known journeyman golfers, who shot three-under 68 each.

Two Australians Geoff Ogilvy and Stuart Appleby and two Americans Eric Axeley and Rocco Mediate were lying third at 69 each, while five players including Ernie Els and Lee Westwood were tied seventh at 70 each as only 11 players broke par on first day.

Winner of the Mercedes Benz Open this year, Chopra was only one shot behind Tiger Woods (72) who was playing his first event since the final round at Augusta Masters. Also tied at 31st was Adam Scott (73), who played in the marque group with Woods and Phil Mickelson (71).

Woods shot a 72 after opening with a double bogey, his first in 416 holes dating back to September 2007. But he then added another double on the 14th. His three birdies came on fourth, eighth and ninth.

K.J. Choi, who started his career on the Asian Tour, shot a 74 and was lying tied 49th alongside the Japanese duo Toru Taniguchi and Ryuji Imada.

Asian Tour honorary member Vijay Singh of Fiji carded an even par 71 to lie three off the lead.

Among other Asian Tour stalwarts Artemio Murakami was battered but unbowed after shooting an eight-over-par 79 in the first round. The 24-year-old Filipino played with joint first round leader Kevin Streelman.

The challenging Torrey Pines course claimed big-name victims including defending champion Angel Cabrera, reigning European number one Justin Rose and Ryder Cup stars Paul Casey and Colin Montgomerie, who also stumbled to 79s.

The top-60 players and ties, plus those within 10 shots off the lead will qualify for the weekend rounds.

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