Dutch Open 2021: Ryder Cup vice-captain Graeme McDowell makes fighting start

Thomas Pieters, Andrew "Beef" Johnston and Thomas Detry are all in action at Bernardus Golf, Cromvoirt, Netherlands.

Ben Smith's picture
Thu, 16 Sep 2021

Dutch Open 2021: Ryder Cup vice-captain Graeme McDowell makes fighting start

Team Europe vice-captain Graeme McDowell made a determined start at the Dutch Open as Irishman Niall Kearney holds the lead.

McDowell scrambled all day to get into the clubhouse at 1-under par with an opening round of 71.

The Northern Irishman's round included three birdies and two bogeys on a tough day.   

He fist-pumped a huge par save at 15 and then found a closing birdie at 18 on the new host venue of the European Tour event. 

McDowell, 42, said it was a late decision to play, adding: "I felt like I made the right decision, it's been too long. 

"I didn't drive the ball very well today and left a few out there."   

Belgium's Thomas Pieters also had a good start (69) to get to 3-under-par.

South Africa's Brandon Stone (68) had a decent day.  

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Pieters got to 5-under-par but found the water at the par-3 17th, missing left with a bad mental error. 

He compounded his error at 17 and found the water with his tee shot at the par-5 18th. 

Thomas Detry (67) played well, draining several long putts and struck his irons well all day after a poor front nine. 

Detry is two behind the lead.

McDowell's fellow Irishman Kearney set a new course record (65) to get to 7-under-par with a bogey-free round to gain the sole lead.

Denmark's Martin Simonsen set the early clubhouse lead with with an opening 66. 

Simonsen went bogey-free for 18 holes, averaging 1.8 putts per green in reg.  

"I usually get off to a poor start then have to scramble on a Friday," the Dane, 32, said. 

Elsewhere, England's Sam Horsefield (67) made a good start.

Andrew "Beef" Johnston made a solid return to form at Wentworth last week. 

He's in the clubhouse at 2-under-par. 

Last year's champion, Sergio Garcia, is absent as he prepares for the forthcoming Ryder Cup

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