LOCH LOMOND, SCOTLAND // The new US Open champion Graeme McDowell was satisfied with a par 71 in the first round of the Scottish Open yesterday, his first tournament since winning at Pebble Beach almost three weeks ago. The Northern Irishman birdied his final two holes at Loch Lomond to lie six strokes behind Darren Clarke, the leader who is also from Northern Ireland and shot a 65.
Edoardo Molinari of Italy, Graeme Storm of England and Damien McGrane of Ireland were one shot back with opening-day 66s. "There were a few good swings in there and a few champagne swings," said McDowell, who confided that he had done little but party since securing his first major title last month. "The two birdies to finish were good and I'm pretty satisfied with my first day back." Molinari kept alive his dream of being, along with sibling Francesco, the first brothers to play in the Ryder Cup. They claimed the World Cup title together last year.
"Obviously, one day I would like to be in the same team as my brother and play with him," Edoardo said. "We did very well at the World Cup and I think we can play well together. Francesco definitely deserves to be in but I need a big win over my next five tournaments and good results to get in." Steven Gallacher, the Scottish favourite, was at 67 along with six others, including Ryo Ishikawa of Japan and John Daly, the colourful but erratic American.
Michael Campbell, the 2005 US Open champion, had another poor day as his miserable spell continued with a round of 80, including a quintuple-bogey 10. Campbell, who made his first cut of the season in France last week after nine failures, lost a ball on the par-5 sixth and ran up a two-shot penalty when he re-loaded with a different compression ball. He reported his error to an official immediately.
"The ball I played was the only one of about a dozen I'm using and it was the wrong type," Campbell said. "It's the rule and you have to uphold the integrity of the game. But it all really rattled me and I couldn't get my head right after that." * Agencies