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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 00:06 GMT 01:06 UK
British stars sparkle at US Open
England's Kenneth Ferrie
The 28-year-old Ferrie is a two-time winner on the European Tour
Kenneth Ferrie, Graeme McDowell and Philip Archer all made excellent starts to their US Open campaigns at Winged Foot on Thursday.

The British trio took full advantage of the slightly easier morning conditions at the New York course to post superb first-round totals.

England's Ferrie and Northern Irishman McDowell both carded one-over 71s to share the early lead on one over.

Archer, also from England, is just three behind after a two-over 72.

It could have been even better for Ferrie, 28, as he bogeyed two of his last three holes to slip back into black numbers.

"If you had given me a 71 before I would have gladly taken it but a bogey on the last always makes lunch taste a bit worse," said Ferrie.

If you miss the fairway you don't try anything, just chip out and leave a good wedge yardage

Phillip Archer
"I saw my name up on the leaderboard and I said to my caddie, 'I've had it up there in the Open at Troon and now the US Open' - it's just a shame it's been after seven or eight holes.

"I had no idea what to expect in my first US Open. I'm a couple off the lead but we still have 54 holes to go and there is a 79 or 80 out there without doing a great deal wrong."

Archer, who only two weeks ago came within a whisker of carding the first ever 59 on the European Tour, also bogeyed the last but can be well pleased with his first ever US Open effort.

The 34-year-old Englishman came through a five-man play-off at Walton Heath earlier this month to claim his US Open invite.

"If someone had said I would shoot two over I would have snapped their hand off but I've been playing well so I just stuck with the plan I've been using," said Archer.

"If you miss the fairway you don't try anything, just chip out and leave a good wedge yardage.

"It's a fantastic experience. Not many people were watching when I teed off at 7am but once the crowds got bigger you start to feel more involved.

This is the ultimate test of golf and I will come out at the end of the week a better golfer

Graeme McDowell
"My wife and mum and a few friends from Warrington are here watching so I've got a little bit of support."

The 26-year-old McDowell, who finished joint second in that qualifying tournament at Walton Heath, came home in an impressive 33 shots at Winged Foot.

Birdies at the 15th and 16th repaired the damage caused by three bogeys on the difficult front nine.

"When I made the turn at three over I was pretty disappointed," said McDowell.

"But this is the ultimate test of golf and I will come out at the end of the week a better golfer.

"Who cares what happens? This is just the best set-up in golf and you learn so much in these weeks. I am excited about the way I am playing."

But with low scores unlikely and the conditions for scoring only going to get worse as the greens get faster, all three Brits will be right in the mix going into Friday's second round.

With David Howell and Colin Montgomerie leading the way, and Miguel Angel Jimenez just a shot behind, it was an excellent day for Europeans on Thursday.

And there were plenty of other excellent performances. Denmark's Thomas Bjorn carded a 72, as did Swede Peter Hedblom, Ireland's Padraig Harrington and Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke posted 73s, and England's Ian Poulter and Irishman Paul McGinley recorded 74s.

But there was less good news for England's Paul Casey, who was seven over, while world number 11 Luke Donald and his former Walker Cup team-mate Nick Dougherty slumped to eight over.

Another English pair Oliver Wilson and Graeme Storm were 10 over and 11 over respectively on their US Open debuts.

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