Sport Golf

Sunday 22 September 2019

Birdie blitz gives McDowell share of lead in Florida as Schwartzel takes home comforts

Charl Schwartzel of South Africa plays a shot from the fairway during day two of the South African Open at Randpark Golf Clubin Johannesburg. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Charl Schwartzel of South Africa plays a shot from the fairway during day two of the South African Open at Randpark Golf Clubin Johannesburg. Photo: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Graeme McDowell teamed up with Argentina's Emiliano Grillo to grab a share of the first-round lead with a blistering 59 in the $3.4 million QBE Shootout in Florida.

Runner-up with Shane Lowry in the 54-hole team strokeplay event last year, the Portrush man was pleased to partner the world No 48 and follow an opening eagle with 12 birdies and just one bogey in the scramble format at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples.

McDowell heads into today's scotch foursomes tied with Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman, and Kevin Na and Bryson DeChambeau. Luke List and Charles Howell III, Gary Woodland and Charley Hoffman and LPGA star Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau shot 11-under 61s to share fourth spot.

Scoring was also hot in the MCB Tour Championship - Mauritius where Paul McGinley (51) fired six birdies in a five-under 67 to share second place, four shots behind reigning Staysure Tour No 1 Clark Dennis.

The Dubliner didn't take advantage of a change in the rules and join the other players wearing shorts in tournament play for the first time at a scorching Constance Belle Mare Plage.

But despite rattling in six birdies, he knows he must get hot again today after Dennis carded a nine-under-par 63 in his first start for three months.

McGinley started on the back nine and raced to the turn in five-under 31 before following a bogey at the first with a birdie at the third.

Headfort's Brendan McGovern, who is 37th in the money list with only the top 20 after next week's MCB Tour Championship - Seychelles exempt next year, was tied 37th after a 76.

On the European Tour, Charl Schwartzel carded an eight-under 63 to lead the South African Open by a shot from self-taught Zambian Madalitso Muthiya at halfway.

The 2011 Masters champion has claimed eight of his 11 European Tour wins on home soil, and while his national Open has so far eluded him, he's in pole position on 12-under par at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg where Muthiya (35) shot a three-under 68 on the Firethorn Course.

Ireland's three hopefuls all missed the two-under cut with Gavin Moynihan and Neil O'Briain two and three-over respectively after two-under 69s on the Bushwillow Course where Michael Hoey shot 72 to miss out on five-over.

On the Ladies European Tour, Leona Magure lies four shots off the lead after opening with a two-under 70 in Pre-Qualifying for the Lalla Aicha Tour School in Morocco.

The Slieve Russell star (24) shares 11th place behind Austria's Nadine Dreher, Sweden's Linnea Strom and Scotland's Rachael Taylor, who all fired with six-under-par 66's at Amelkis Golf Club in Marrakesh.

Leona's twin sister Lisa shot a two-over 74 that left her tied 39th with top 38 players and ties after four rounds advancing to the 90-hole Final Stage from December 16-20.

South Africa Open, Live

Sky Sports, 9.30

QBE Shootout, Live

Sky Sports, 6.0.

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