McIlroy stumbles to 77 in US Open

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Everything seemed effortless for Rory McIlroy last year in the U.S. Open.

He opened with a 65, then kept cruising at rain-softened Congressional en route to an eight-stroke win.

This year at The Olympic Club, McIlroy might not even be around for the weekend unless he plays better than he did Thursday. He shot a 7-over 77 and was 11 strokes behind first-round leader Michael Thompson.

“I just too many times was in the wrong position off the tee or with my second shot and it makes it very difficult,” McIlroy said. “When you’re trying to play catch up on this golf course, it’s very hard … you have to be so precise. Anything just a little off and it really punishes you.”

Through 16 holes McIlroy had already missed 10 greens _ the same number he missed in four rounds at Congressional when he shot 16 under to set a record with the lowest score in championship history.

He missed the last two greens as well and finished bogey-bogey.

“Seven-over is a big hole for any player,” 2010 U.S. Open champ Graeme McDowell said when asked about his Northern Ireland countryman. “Rory McIlroy’s a pretty good player though, so if anybody can come back from it, he can. But this golf course doesn’t really offer up many 64s.”

Even on the reachable par-5 17th, McIlroy walked away with a bogey.

Credit goes to Olympic’s tight, twisting fairways and rock-hard greens _ a stark contrast to Congressional.

But there also was no energy to feed off of in the marquee afternoon grouping, which featured top-ranked Luke Donald, No. 2 McIlroy and No. 3 Lee Westwood.

Donald shot a 9-over 79, and Westwood was 4 over through the first six holes before steadying himself and finishing at 73.

Donald insisted there wasn’t much time for chit-chat to boost one other.

“The U.S. Open demands your full attention, and obviously Lee had a good back nine, but Rory and I both struggled,” Donald said.

McIlroy was so deep in the rough on No. 12 his next shot came out sideways, and led to another bogey.

On 13, he threw a tired fist-pump when he finally hit the green and sank a birdie putt.

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