Sport Golf

Thursday 26 April 2018

Lewis so close in history bid as Lowry struggles

Tom Lewis. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Tom Lewis. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Rick Mollet

Golf can be a cruel game sometimes - and Shane Lowry and Tom Lewis got further reminders of its vagaries in yesterday's first round of the Made in Denmark event.

Lowry, hoping to make a late push for a Ryder Cup wild card selection, saw his hopes virtually disappear over Himmerland Hill with a disappointing four-over-par opening salvo, while nobody who has ever carded a 62 in competitive golf will be more disappointed than Lewis.

The Englishman was on the brink of an historic new low in European golf as he scorched through his opening 13 holes in an astonishing 12-under par.

However, needing just five pars to break the magical 60 barrier for the first time on the European Tour, and with a par five to come, fate bit back hard and three late bogeys left Lewis demoralised despite a course record 62 and a share of the overnight lead. Thomas Pieters and Joakim Lagergren had earlier equalled the course record at Himmerland Resort.

That was before Lewis produced one of the most scintillating spells of the season. He turned in 28 with seven birdies thanks to some brilliant approach play after starting on the back nine, and a hat-trick of further gains from the first had him ten-under after 12 holes.

When he rolled in a 45-footer on the fourth for eagle, he could have parred his way home to get into the history books but a ragged tee-shot and a miss from five feet led to a first dropped shot of the day on the fifth. A poor chip saw an opportunity go a-begging on the next and a horrible lie off the tee on the eighth led to a bogey before another on the ninth.

Read more: Ladies in line for a green pennant

That round still represents an excellent day for the 25-year-old, who lost his Tour card last season. "How many people can get disappointed with nine under? It's a tough one but everyone call tell it was on there and unfortunately I came up just short. It was a good round today but a disappointing one," Lewis said. "Unfortunately it just caught up with me a little bit. Maybe I thought too much, or tried too hard, hence the finish."

Pieters, playing alongside Europe's Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke, seized the opportunity to impress ahead of next week's wild-card selection announcement.

The big-hitting Belgian posted 10 birdies and just one bogey to continue his strong form following his fourth place at the Olympics and runner-up finish at last week's D+D Real Czech Masters. Pieters said: "I did all I could in front of Darren today. It's up to Darren. If I do win this week, it might get him thinking."

Pieters' impressive showing was in stark contrast to fellow Ryder Cup hopeful Lowry's off-day which contained just one birdie and five bogeys.

There was better news of some of the other Irish competitors with Paul Dunne signing for a three-under-par 68 and Gary Hurley posting a two-under 69. However, Peter Lawrie (72), Cormac Sharvin (72), Michael Hoey (73) and Clarke (76) have work to do to survive until the weekend.

Elsewhere, Rory McIlroy unveiled a new putter at The Barclays in the first of four FedEx Cup Play-off events. McIlroy has switched his Nike Method Origin putter for a Scotty Cameron M1 prototype. However, the new broom didn't sweep clean for the Holywood ace at Bethpage Black as 17 putts and two bogeys on his front nine left him well off the pace set by Ryder Cup hopeful Patrick Reed and Martin Laird, who both shot five-under-par 66s.

However, three birdies on the homeward stretch steadied the ship for McIlroy who finished on level-par 71, his late push undermined by a bogey on the 17th.

World No 1 Jason Day, leader in the FedEx series, is nicely placed after a 68. Graeme McDowell had a topsy-turvy round, carding four bogeys and three birdies in his 72. Olympic champion Justin Rose endured some Rio fatigue in Farmingdale, shooting a two-over-par 73, while there was no such ailment for Irish Olympian Seamus Power on the Tour. Power shot a seven-under 64 to lie one shot off the lead in the Portland Open.

Made in Denmark

Live, Sky Sports 4, 10.30am/2.30pm

The Barclays

Live, Sky Sports 4, 7.0pm

Irish Independent

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