LEE Westwood has praised amateur champion, James Sugrue, despite a tough opening round at the US Open.
The Mallow native got sideways from the start en route to a 78 which beat three players in the field – one of them Phil Mickelson (79). It was a similar story for Irish golfers Graeme McDowall and Shane Lowry though, who are both six over, but Rory McIlroy is two behind leader Justin Thomas after shooting a three-under 67 at Winged Foot.
Westwood, who played with Sugrue, saw promise in his game despite the struggles.
“He's got nice game; he just makes mistakes that an amateur would make at a US Open,” Westwood said. “Somebody playing in their first US Open, it’s the kind of mistakes we all make. Threw a few away on the greens three-putting and missed a few in the wrong spots.
"These kind of tournaments will get you, and they come as a shock to you when you've not played them before. He's obviously got a very bright future.”
Westwood even lobbied for Sugrue to get an 11th-hour invitation to play in next week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Galgorm Castle.
“He's the British amateur champion from Ireland, and he's not got an invite to the Irish Open,” Westwood said. “Little bit shocked at that. Maybe should be a late one in there.”