Friday 6 December 2019

Ireland stay in touch despite slow start

Ireland made a lacklustre start to their challenge for the European Nations Championship at Sotogrande in Spain yesterday.

But despite a disappointing all-round display they are still well within striking distance of the countries in second spot.

With three of their four cards counting Ireland posted an opening day aggregate of 222 to lie in 11th place albeit only seven adrift of Germany and Denmark who share second spot.

England made a stunning start to their bid for back-to-back wins with an aggregate of 207 and an eight-stroke cushion over their nearest rivals.

Portstewart's Paul Cutler and Limerick's Pat Murray, the Irish close champion were the leading representatives from Ireland both carding scores of one over par 73.

Elsewhere, all the talk is about Tiger Woods returning at The Masters, but all that is in Justin Rose's head right now is trying to get to Augusta.

The former European number one has that as his obvious goal in this week's Transitions Championship in Florida.

Rose was the halfway leader in the 2004 Masters and three years ago was only one behind when he double-bogeyed the penultimate hole.

But then came a tumble down the world rankings until two weeks ago when a closing 64 at the Honda Classic lifted him to third place, his best finish in America since June 2008. Now Rose stands 59th in the world, with the leading 50 on Monday week qualifying for the opening major of the season.

He is mightily relieved to see his hard work paying dividends at last.

The 29-year-old said: "I've played good enough golf to win out here. I've been close a few times. Sometimes winning just gets in the way without you trying too hard -- it's felt like it's been a bit of a battle."

The Transitions Championship

Live, Sky Sports 2, 7.0

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