Sunday 19 November 2017

Lawrie caps return with storming finish

Bernie McGuire, in Munich

Being the father of four children, each under the age of seven, has done Peter Lawrie's golf game little harm after he recorded a three-under-par 69 on the opening day of the rain-affected BMW International Open in Munich.

Lawrie returned to competition for the first time since the birth of his first son Christopher on June 3.

It meant the Dubliner missed out on the Wales Open at the time and also had to withdraw from qualifying for both the US and British Opens.

Lawrie, who played alongside his Scottish namesake Paul, capped his return to competition with a pair of closing birdies to end the day five strokes behind Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who took full advantage of the 'preferred lie' rule on the rain-drenched Nord Eichenried course.

"Paul played lovely to shoot six-under, so I just tried to jump on board and get sucked in by his good play," said Lawrie. "But since Christopher arrived, I haven't played any golf at all.

"I won the Slieve Russell Pro-Am just before he was born, so I am making up by playing the next three weeks and hoping to make it four by grabbing one of the last spots into the British Open."

Should Lawrie qualify for only his second British Open, he's looking forward to catching up with new US Open champion, Rory McIlroy. "I'll be looking to congratulate him for sure as he's certainly put Ireland on the golfing map," said Lawrie.

Damien McGrane recorded a one-under-par 71 and Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin a level-par 72 in his first event since his marriage on May 23.

Shane Lowry struggled when dropping three strokes over the closing three holes in a score of four-over-par 76.

In carding his eight-under-par 64, Swede Stenson managed to finish with a full set of clubs, four days after badly cutting a finger when he broke his seven-iron in anger at the US Open.

Stenson has fallen from fourth in the world 124th in the last two years, but was on the leaderboard for much of last week in Washington.

Still wearing a bandage on his finger, Stenson overcame some torrential afternoon downpours to grab an eagle and seven birdies.

"I don't think you will find a player who's been on tour for 10 to 15 years who has not had some rough times," he said. "We all go through ups and downs. I've been struggling with my game a little bit, but it's hard to put my finger on what it's been."

Meantime, double US Open champion, Retief Goosen believes McIlroy could have won April's US Masters had he better advice from his caddy.

Goosen posted a Congressional final-round 68 to finish in a share of 23rd place and 19 shots adrift of McIlrory.

"The way he bounced back from Augusta was superb because he really didn't play all that bad at Augusta," said the South African after an opening 68 in Munich.

"It's just that I feel his caddy gave him a few bad clubs to hit off some tees and that led to some bad decisions that cost Rory badly, but the good thing is that he learnt from that experience."

BMW International Open,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 10.30/3.30

Irish Independent

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