Thursday 24 May 2018

Harrington and Lowry team up for flying start

Pádraig Harrington opened with a nine-under par 63 in the $7.1m Zurich Classic of New Orleans.. Photo: Getty Images
Pádraig Harrington opened with a nine-under par 63 in the $7.1m Zurich Classic of New Orleans.. Photo: Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Shane Lowry and Pádraig Harrington lived up to their walk-on music when they opened with a nine-under par 63 in the $7.1m Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

After marching out to U2's 'Beautiful Day', they covered the back nine at TPC Louisiana in five-under 31, then played the front in 32 to finish their marathon day - they took over six hours - just three shots behind early leaders Chez Reavie and Lucas Glover.

The American pair shot a 12-under 60 for an early two-shot lead over Tony Finau and Daniel Summerhays, JJ Henry and Scott Hoge, Andrew Putnam and Korea's Michael Kim and England's Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Paisley, who also shot 62s.

Lowry made birdies at the 11th, 12th, 13th and 16th and followed a Harrington birdie two at the 17th with a two of his own at the third to put the six-under.

But it was Harrington who did the scoring coming home, firing a 190-yard approach to four feet at the tough sixth before converting chances from around 10 feet at the seventh and eighth.

Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter sent European Ryder Cup skipper Thomas Bjorn a timely reminder of their bonding skills with a seven-under 65.

While Poulter is just outside the eight automatic places thanks to his recent playoff win in the Houston Open, McDowell needs a big week to get himself into the reckoning for a trip to Le Golf National in Paris, where he has twice won the Open de France.

He might just get it after Poulter birdied the last three holes to leave them inside the top 20 with the top 42 teams making the cut after today's foursomes.

West Waterford's Seamus Power and Canadian David Hearn shot a six-under 66 that was matched by three-time Major winner Jordan Spieth and partner Ryan Palmer.

On the European Tour, Greystones' Paul Dunne needed all his short game skills to open with one-under 71 in the Volvo China Open in Beijing.

He's tied for 48th, seven strokes adrift of home favourite Jin Daxing, who made an eagle and six birdies in an error-free 64 at Topwin Golf & Country Club to lead by a shot from England's Matt Wallace and Italy's Nino Bertasio on eight-under par.

It was also a challenging day for Irish in the Turkish Airlines Challenge in Antalya where Derry's Ruaidhri McGee was three over after a poor front nine but rattled in six birdies in a scorching, homeward 31 to lead the seven-strong Irish challenge with a three-under 69.

He ended the day tied for 29th, three shots behind a seven-man leading group, as Gavin Moynihan recovered from an early triple bogey seven to card a 71 that left him just inside the cut mark alongside Tullamore's Stuart Grehan and Galgorm Castle's Michael Hoey on one-under.

Irish Independent

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