Saturday 18 November 2017

Fog fails to aid struggling McDowell

Graeme McDowell. Photo: Getty Images
Graeme McDowell. Photo: Getty Images

William S Callahan

THE gods are certainly not smiling on the Northern Hemisphere as heavy fog disrupted the first round of the €2.2m Ballantine's Championship at Pinx golf club on Jeju Island in the Korean Republic.

Play was eventually suspended as darkness fell. Earlier it had been halted twice for a total of six hours and 10 minutes due to fog which swept in over this testing island course.

Ironically, organisers had been expecting high winds throughout the tournament.

Instead they got no wind and the fog rolled in, swathing the course in a dense blanket of grey mist.

Of those who got their rounds completed, Australia's Marcus Fraser was the happiest after shooting a bogey-free, seven-under-par 65 to lead by a shot from England's Mark Foster.

Ted Oh, Rick Kulacz and Jamie Donaldson shared third place at five-under 67, but Donaldson still had two holes left when play stopped for the day.

Of the Irish contingent, only Graeme McDowell managed to play the full 18 holes, and after filing a 74, he might have been wishing that the fog had held him up.

McDowell was the first winner of this tournament in 2008, and came to Pinx GC with hopes high and happy memories of a course on which he recorded his first win since 2004.

Irish Open champion Shane Lowry got through 16 holes and was at level par.

At least he had only two holes to play to complete before embarking on round two, unlike Paul McGinley, Peter Lawrie and Damien McGrane.

McGinley had one hole completed when he had to stop, and thus faces 35 holes today.

McGrane and Lawrie never managed to start their round.

Ulster's Gareth Maybin had more reason than most to curse his luck, as he was playing nicely on three-under par after 12 holes.

Current holder Thonchai Jaidee was among the non-starters.

Ernie Els and Anthony Kim were nicely poised in a group on 68. Els commented: "I shot 68. I'm so happy to get it done. It was a long day. We started this morning at seven and it's now 6.0pm.

"If there's no wind, like now, you can really attack the golf course, so it all depends on the weather."

Meanwhile, Leona McGuire from Slieve Russell GC gets ready to defend her Scottish Ladies Strokeplay (Helen Holm) title at Troon today.

Leona, recent winner of the French U-21 championship for the second successive year, and her twin sister Lisa are in a group of 16 Irish players bidding for this prestigious title.

The twins and Irish international Danielle McVeigh are in the GB and Ireland squad for the Curtis Cup which is set to be played in Massachusetts from June 7-10.

McVeigh and Leona are the official ILGU competitors in the team event for the Helen Holm trophy, but they and Lisa will be more concerned with producing an impressive performance, as the GB and Ireland team will be chosen at the end of play on Sunday evening.

Ballantines Championship,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 6.0am, 1.0pm

Irish Independent

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