Brilliant Shane Lowry two behind Jordan Spieth after first round of US Masters
McIlroy also in contention after good day for the Irish in Augusta
Ireland’s Shane Lowry declared himself delighted with his opening round of 68 at The Masters, even though he missed chances to shoot an even lower round in at Augusta.
Lowry finished two shots off early leader Jordan Spieth, with the Offlay man looking forward to making a push for his first major title after his flying start.
“If you had have given me this at the start of the day, I would have bitten your hand off,” stated Lowry. “I played really well today and I am pretty happy to be sitting where I am right now.
“I was just trying to keep it going as long as I could after my fast start. I made a 12-footer on the first to hold par and then holed a couple of 15-20 footer, so I was off and running.
“It was difficult today. It windy and any birdie you could get was hard work. Par was a good score, but I was lucky to make a couple of good putts coming in.
“I woke up this morning and I felt great. I was excited, I wasn’t nervous. I just couldn’t wait to get started. Hopefully I wake up in the same frame of mind on Friday.”
While Lowry has put himself in contention after the first round, the sparkling form of defending Masters champion Spieth will have send a shiver through the field after his immaculate round of 66 left him six under heading into the second round.
Out in the early part of the day when the winds at Augusta were at their most brisk, the two-time major winner looked like the man to beat this week as he marched to a first round lead.
"I would have signed for two under today and not even played the round, knowing the conditions that were coming up," Spieth said. "I got a lot out of the round with what I felt like was kind of average-ish ball-striking.
"I got the most I could probably get out of my round today. I think the round today may have been better than the first round last year because of the conditions, I definitely could make that argument."
Spieth's playing partner Casey, who was sixth last year and also on his debut in 2004, was similarly impressed, adding: "That was a flawless round of golf. When he got into trouble.... he bailed out in the right place and what could have been an error, he turned into a wonderful par save. It was absolutely flawless.
"One of the toughest days I've ever seen around Augusta National. I played a wonderful round of golf, but it was great to have a front row seat to watch that."