Wednesday 13 December 2017

Higgins rides storm to stay right in hunt

William S Callaghan

DAVID HIGGINS set off in hot pursuit of leader Pablo Larrazabal after torrential rain and flooding severely disrupted the opening round of the Lyoness Open at Diamond Country Club in Altzenbrugg, Austria.

Larrazabal had landed an eagle three and four birdies on the back nine and was leading on six-under when the deluge forced the players off the course.

When play resumed three hours and 40 minutes later, the Spaniard picked up two more shots in his final three holes to complete an eight-under-par 64.

Higgins (39) from Waterville, opened with a hat-trick of birdies at 10, 11 and 12 and as darkness fell he hadn't a bogey on his card and was still three-under through 12 holes.

Larrazabal's closest challenger on seven-under through 14 holes was Thorbjorn Olesen (22). Kerryman Mark Murphy was one-under after his first 11 holes.

Shane Lowry picked up two birdies in his final three holes for a first-round 70 which left him tied 20th. Damien McGrane scrambled superbly for a 71. The Kells man hit just nine greens in regulation, but got up and down six times and had 13 one-putts. Simon Thornton dropped three shots in the final four holes of his 73, while Rathmore's Alan Dunbar hit a 75.

Meanwhile, former tennis world No 1 Yevgeny Kafelnikov (38) opened his second European Tour event with a 75.

Austrian Open,

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