McDowell and Harrington off the pace
Padraig Harrington's hopes of playing in the US Open at Chambers Bay next week were shredded by his opening round in the St Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee yesterday.
Harrington needs to win the tournament to even have a chance of breaking into the top 60 of the World for entry to the second Major of the season.
His problem now is finding a way to make the cut in the St Jude after an opening 75, five-over par.
Harrington had to work hard to turn in level par 35 for the front nine, but on the homeward stretch some wayward drives and a cold putter left him four-over par after 17 holes. The Dubliner’s problems were compounded when he found water off the tee on the last.
He played a fine recovery shot after dropping out for a penalty to get his ball on the green 35 feet from the hole, but had to settle for bogey five.
Graeme McDowell also failed to hit form, and he had earlier filed a 76. His plan was to use this tournament for some competitive fine-tuning ahead of next week’s US Open. Instead, he hit a proverbial brick wall and found himself struggling.
One birdie, five bogeys and a double bogey left the 2010 US Open champion at the wrong end of the field as clubhouse leaders Brooks Koepka and England’s Greg Owen set the target at six-under par.
Ryan Palmer later joined them in the clubhouse lead with an impressive 64. Palmer is hitting form at the right time, as he is a native of the Seattle area where the US Open is being played next week.
In Europe, Peter Lawrie played flawless golf for a confidence-boosting start to the Lyoness Open at the Diamond Country Club in Atzenbrugg, Austria.
Lawrie opened the tournament with a four-under par, bogey-free 68 to lie just three shots off the pace set by leader Gregory Bourdy of France.
The Dubliner and Bourdy were joined by Finland’s Mikko Korhonen, who shot 69, as the only golfers in the field to avoid dropping a shot to par on day one.
Lawrie was pleased with his performance but knows he cannot not allow himself any complacency.
He needs to follow that form and finish more consistently on the right end of leaderboards if he is to have any chance of regaining his Tour card, but was encouraged by yesterday’s display. Simon Thornton on two-under-par 70 was the next best of the Irish.
Michael Hoey shot 73, and Kevin Phelan signed for 74. Gareth Maybin and Damien McGrane were on 76 and 77 respectively, which makes for a stiffer challenge today.
Meanwhile Bourdy hit the heights as he recorded seven birdies to lead by two from Germany’s Max Kieffer, Spain’s Carlos Del Moral and Robert Dinwiddie and Chris Wood of England.
Bourdy, 33, has finished 18th and eighth in his previous appearances at the venue, and birdied four of his first seven holes.
A further gain from 10 feet at the 13th took him into a share of the lead, and he took advantage of both par fives on the back nine.
“It was a lovely day today,” said Bourdy, who has had three top 10 finishes this season and missed only two cuts.
“I played very solid and started well with two birdies in the first two holes and that always helps when you make such a confident start,” said Bourdy.
Kieffer’s recent form is impressive, with the 24-year-old having made the weekend in all 14 starts this term.
FedEx St Jude Classic
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