Friday 18 August 2017

Stricker and Kelly on fire

ONLY the 'Dream Team' of Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter could match the searing pace of Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker yesterday as the defending champions opened the Shark Shootout with a blaze of birdies in Naples, Florida.

Kelly and Stricker won last year's Shootout with a sensational closing 59 and the Madison pair's golf was nearly as hot as they compiled an opening round of nine-under-par 63, an impressive effort indeed considering they were playing greensomes.

Yet Ryder Cup rivals Johnson and Poulter were always going to shine in team play, considering the prodigious distance the American hits the golf ball and the precision of his English partner's iron play and putting, as they matched Kelly and Stricker's score.

Graeme McDowell teed it up for the seventh week in succession and the US Open champion formed a potent-looking partnership with Shark Shootout debutant Darren Clarke as they posted a five-under-par round of 67 to share sixth place.

This 54-hole end-of-season fund-raiser continues today with a round of fourballs followed by tomorrow's scramble.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Martina Gillen goes into the final 18 holes of the Dubai Ladies Masters in a tie for 43rd place on six-over-par after a third round of four-over 76 at The Emirates Club yesterday. Denmark's Iben Tinning (69) and Melissa Reid (68) of England led by one on eight-under.

Gillen will be joined at the Ladies European Tour final qualifying next week in La Manga by Irish Curtis Cup star Danielle McVeigh, whose prospects of winning an LPGA card at final Q-School in the US were virtually snuffed out when she posted a six-over-par 78 on the Champions Course in Daytona Beach yesterday to slip to 20-over-par after three rounds.

Dubai Ladies Masters,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 9.30

Irish Independent

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