Saturday 10 December 2016

Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell have Ireland just three shots off the lead at the World Cup of Golf

Published 24/11/2016 | 07:53

Graeme McDowell (L) and teammate Shane Lowry of Ireland bump fists during the first day of the World Cup of Golf on the Kingston Heath course in Melbourne
Graeme McDowell (L) and teammate Shane Lowry of Ireland bump fists during the first day of the World Cup of Golf on the Kingston Heath course in Melbourne

Spain birdied the final hole to sit top of the leaderboard after the opening day of foursomes at the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf.

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The duo of Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Jon Rahm went one under at the par-four 18th to card a three-under-par 69 in testing conditions in Melbourne.

It was a perfect end to an impressive round in the wind, with Cabrera-Bello having earlier sunk a putt from distance to register an eagle at the eighth.

"It was a fun putt," he said. "When I was seeing it, it looked like it couldn't miss and then all of a sudden it really missed and I don't know how it came back and went in.

"It's been a fun day. We played well. It was tough and tricky with the wind but Jon played great, I rolled some putts and hit some good shots as well. It's a score we're proud of and also a score we deserve."

Rahm added: "We're playing foursomes in this kind of weather in this part of the world and on this kind of course... It's a little tricky to what I'm used to playing in the States.

"Obviously we planned a strategy which had me hitting more tee-shots. He hit a couple of great shots, rolled some putts in and that's pretty much what we needed. It wasn't so much about hitting great shots - it was about avoiding mistakes and we did that perfectly."

Spain hold a one-shot lead over France, China and the United States, who all went round in 70 to be two under.

The French pairing of Victor Dubuisson and Romain Langasque fired four birdies and two bogeys, as did Ryder Cup-winning American pair Jimmy Walker and Rickie Fowler, while Wu Ashun and Li Haotong of China posted five birdies and three bogeys.

England, represented by Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan, were a shot further back on one under along with the Italian pair of Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero, with Irish duo Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell level par alongside Sweden and Denmark.

The Irish duo bounced back from a double-bogey on the eighth to birdie the par 4 ninth and turn on one over.

Consecutive birdies at 14 and 15 saw them enter the red numbers but a bogey on the final hole meant they signed for a level par 72.

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