An ailing Lee Westwood and a fuming Ian Poulter had vastly different tales to tell on the opening day of the US Open at Pinehurst yesterday.
Westwood, who is suffering from a chest complaint and was kept awake for most of Wednesday night, somehow produced a two-under-par 68 to be only one behind American pacesetters Rocco Mediate and Olin Browne.
Poulter, on the other hand, was raging over incidents on the 18th and first greens as he slumped to a seven-over
77. Having started on the back nine the Ryder Cup star was already five over when his tiny par putt on the 18th almost came out again after going into the cup and hitting the back rim.
On the very next green, amazingly, his two-foot par putt did come back out and, before tapping in for bogey, he stood and protested to the rules official.
Poulter called for the tournament director, who told him that while it was unfortunate, the situation had been checked and the cups were considered fine.
"That was because I'd rammed the flag back in on the first because I didn't want it to happen to anybody else," commented the Milton Keynes golfer.
"It's never happened to me before and I've only ever seen it once on a putting green, not in a tournament.
"I hit two perfect putts and you don't expect to see that. We're in a major and I feel it's a shame. The metal rim is supposed to be an inch, minimum, below the surface and I was having a tough enough time without that.
"I could shoot three threeunders now and lose by a shot. If I do, I'm not going to be very happy and I'm choosing my words very carefully here. Inside, I'm raging."
Westwood was considering seeking a doctor after his round. He had started feeling ill last weekend in Maryland, but became much worse on the eve of the event.
"I thought it was sunstroke, but I now think it's going from the heat into air conditioning," he said. "I didn't feel too great, but I played great."
Level par with six to play, he birdied the 378-yard 13th and then rolled in a 60-foot putt on the next.
The 16th is probably the hardest hole on the course - it plays as a par five for members - but he made a 30-footer there.
As Westwood sought treatment he was alongside Retief Goosen and Phil Mickelson, first and second last year, and Australian Adam Scott, while Brandt Jobe had joined Mediate and Browne out in front by going to the turn in
32. Mickelson and Scott both had six to play.
Also in the hunt were Luke Donald and Masters champion Tiger Woods - round in 69 and 70 respectively playing together - but Paul Casey's recent troubles continued with a nightmare 15-over-par 85. He is now 46 over par for his last seven rounds.
Donald, beaten by Woods by seven shots the last time they played together in a major, underlined the massive strides he has made.
Woods was wayward from the start, but was still able to pick up where he left off at Augusta in April - with a birdie. His opening drive missed the fairway on the right for the first of several times, but also missed the tangled rough and finished on a sandy path.
Just off the green in two at the 607-yard hole, he then chipped to 12 feet and made the putt. But coming up short of the green on the short 15th and finding the rough at the next did lead to bogeys before he came back with a fine bunker shot to within three feet of the flag at the fourth.
Donald, who had to back off from a putt as early as the 12th because of clicking cameras aimed at Woods, almost holed his pitch to the 13th, but then stuttered as well.
He found the left rough at the 16th before chipping over the green and then threeputted the next for another bogey. But he birdied the first and fourth and came back from another dropped shot at the fifth with another birdie on the eighth.
Donald said afterwards: "I was a little bit heavy-handed on 16 and 17, they were clumsy bogeys, but overall I'm very happy."
Debutants Jonathan Lomas, Nick Dougherty and Graeme McDowell shot 72, 72 and 74 respectively, while
Yorkshire's Simon Dyson, another first-timer, struggled and returned a 79.
Late starters Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington were three and five over respectively just after the turn, while Paul McGinley and David Howell were four over.
World No 2 Vijay Singh reached two under, but dropped back to levelr. Mickelson bogeyed the 15th and 16th, but a 15-foot putt on the last brought him back to oneunder - the winning score in 1999 when he finished one behind Payne Stewart.
Montgomerie was back in the thick of the race at level par when he had fine birdies at the 14th and 16th.