Lowry struggles

Shane Lowry lines up a putt on the sixth green during day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Golf Championship at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, Ballymena

Brian Keogh

Shane Lowry refused to make excuses for "a comedy of errors" as an opening 75 left him ten shots off the pace in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

The Open champion and world No 30 is determined to win his second Irish title but he was bitterly disappointed to struggle in cold, blustery conditions and likely needs a sub-70 round today just to make the cut at Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort.

South African Dean Burmester and English duo Jordan Smith and Aaron Rai fired five-under 65s to lead by a shot from another Englishman, Toby Tree.

But Lowry never got to grips with the conditions, running up eight bogeys against just three birdies to end the day tied for 98th in the 120-man field as Mallow amateur James Sugrue shot 67 to lead the home challenge in joint fifth

"Pretty bad," Lowry said after making a seven-footer for a closing birdie four. "It was like a comedy of errors out there. Every time I made some really bad decisions, I executed my shots really, really badly and I really struggled on the greens.

"I have to go out there and fight tomorrow, and try and make the cut and then you never know at the weekend because it's going to be this temperature all weekend."

The birdie at the last did little to brighten his mood as he wants to do more than just make the cut.


"I'm not here to make up the numbers," the Offaly man insisted. "I'm not coming here and it's like, 'Isn't it great Shane's here'. I didn't come here for that. I came here to play the tournament because it's the Irish Open.

"I've always said I'd love to win another one of these. And I came here to do that and, look, it's a big task from here but nothing's impossible."

He refused to blame the conditions for his score, pointing out that it was 12 degrees in the mornings at the US Open last week, where Sugrue also played and missed the cut,

"He's clearly not using that excuse," Lowry said. "It'd be great to see him doing well, like anyone, but there's a long way to go and anyone can shoot one good score, but putting four together is what it's all about."

Big-hitting Burmester (31) won the Tswane Open in his native South Africa in 2017 but while he raced to seven-under after 12 holes in the first match on the course, he double-bogeyed the 17th before being joined on 65 by 2017 European Open winner Smith (27) and 2018 Hong Kong Open winner Rai (25).

"I'm still cold," Burmester said. "It's been a long time since I've woken up and hit balls in the dark too, but the greens were perfect and obviously it worked out for me today. I'm just happy to be back in the hut right now."

Carlow Golf Club's Damien McGrane ground out a level-par 70 and Ryder Cup captain Pádraig Harrington was well-placed alongside Jonathan Caldwell after carding a 71 in his first tour round for six-and-a-half months.

"I wouldn't have taken it," Harrington said. "I want to go and win the tournament and it's hard to win the tournament when you're one-over. But there was lots of good stuff and even the bad stuff, I just put down to rust, so I was more than happy with it."


The Ryder Cup skipper was level for his round after following early birdies at the second and fourth with long-range, three-putt bogeys at the sixth and seventh when he drove into trouble at the 10th, then hit his third into rhododendrons.

He enlisted the help of caddie Ronan Flood to move an enormous fallen tree limb, eventually making a double-bogey seven.

"Actually I was moving the tree for the wrong golf ball," he revealed after following a birdie at the 15th with a good par save at the last.

"I didn't see it until halfway through all of that ... It was actually dead light but it looked good!"

  • DDF Irish Open, Live, RTÉ 2/Sky Sports, 1.0