Sport Golf

Sunday 24 September 2017

Lawrie enjoys sizzling start to Czech 'holiday'

William S Callahan

ALREADY delighted to be able to catch up on his sleep in Celadna this week, Peter Lawrie now has sweet dreams of a second victory on the European Tour after a faultless first-round 66 gave him the lead on a great day for the Irish at the Czech Open.

Four Irish players featured in the top 10 at the Prosper Golf Resort, with Lawrie's regular room-mate Damien McGrane posting an impressive 67 to lie in a three-way tie for second, Shane Lowry one shot back in a share of fifth place after his 68 and Paul McGinley one of 10 players in seventh following a 69.

Dubliner Lawrie (37) was 'the daddy', however, joking that getting back out onto the professional golf circuit was a veritable holiday. "I call this 'Camp European Tour'," he laughed.

"We have four children under five so it's tough at home. When you come out here, you get seven hours' straight sleep. It's easy to be out here and it's nice to be back."

Though he has been playing solid golf all year, Lawrie was delighted when an old putter he took out of his garage helped him become the top home player at the recent Irish Open in Killarney and he really shone on the pristine new greens yesterday.

"I did one or two things differently with my putting in Ireland and it seems to work here as well," confirmed Lawrie, who needed just 23 putts yesterday as he landed six birdies in a bogey-free round.

Lawrie was beaten in a play-off by Sweden's Peter Hanson in last year's Czech Open, but the course has been changed, with a new front nine introduced.

Miguel Angel Jimenez designed two courses in Celadna and the 18 holes for this year's event are a combination of the two.

"It's a little bit different, I have to admit," said Lawrie. "It's not Miguel's normal design. It's a little longer than I would have expected. However, I played nicely around it, so, yeah, I liked it.

"The greens are absolutely brilliant. They're very firm and the putts are rolling quite well. The fairways are a little soft but, overall, it's pretty good."

Boosted by a birdie at his first hole, the 10th, and buoyed by two more in his final three holes, McGrane said: "I made a nice start and it was good to have a decent finish, because five-under was a fair reflection of the way I played today.

perfect

"The conditions were perfect, so it was possible to create a lot of chances," added the Kells man, who shared second place with Victor Dubuisson of France and Spain's Pedro Oriol, playing with borrowed clubs after losing his in transit.

"I think it's a lot more difficult than the old course, which was tighter and possibly suited my game, but certainly you're hitting it a long way on that new front nine," he explained.

The highlight of McGrane's round was a 45-foot birdie putt at seven.

Lowry received an instant dividend from a new putter and a change of grip during a confidence-boosting round of 68. "I put a new putter in the bag this week -- I just thought I'd give it a go because I'd been struggling of late," said the Clara man.

"I normally putt cross-handed but today was the first time I haven't since I was 19 and it worked out okay," added Lowry, who was level through the turn and then picked up four shots on the front nine, including a superb tap-in eagle at five, followed by "a couple of great par saves at five and six -- they were crucial and kept me going".

"It goes through all your game when you're not putting well but I putted nicely today," he added.

McGinley also eagled the fifth and hit 16 greens in regulation during an encouraging 69, though he'll be hoping to take better advantage of the chances he makes on the pristine greens today.

Czech Open,

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