Saturday 20 October 2018

Lowry battles back after a shaky start in Sun City

Shane Lowry trails Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger by five shots in the $7.5m Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Shane Lowry trails Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger by five shots in the $7.5m Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Shane Lowry battled back from a shaky start to open with a level-par 72 and trail Austria's Bernd Wiesberger by five shots in the $7.5m Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City.

Like Pádraig Harrington and Paul Dunne, who were forced to work hard for two-over 74s in swirling winds and sweltering heat, Lowry was in trouble early on but fought back well to keep his victory hopes alive.

The Clara man birdied all four par-fives and while he was two over par after four following a double-bogey six at the 11th and another dropped shot at the 13th, he took advantage of chances on the greens.

With club selection made difficult by the altitude, a capricious breeze and some tight pins, he made two more bogeys at his eighth and 15th holes in the penultimate Rolex Series event of the season.

But there were also four more birdies - at his fifth, 11th, 14th and 18th - and he finished the day ranked fourth for putting and tied for 32nd on the leaderboard on level-par.

Seeking his second win of the season, Wiesberger (32) made eight birdies in an impressive 67 to lead by a stroke from home favourite, Branden Grace, Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, and Scotland's Scott Jamieson on five-under par.

"It's a golf course that challenges you from the first to the last, and you've got to be careful," Wiesberger said after a stunning approach helped him birdie the 18th and bring him home in 31.

Defending champion Alex Noren, South African Charl Schwartzel, England's Graeme Storm and Japan's Hideto Tanihara share sixth place on three-under after 69s.

But while a win for Tommy Fleetwood would wrap up the Race to Dubai title, the long-haired Englishman struggled to a 73 and lies six shots off the lead.

It was even more of a battle for Harrington and Dunne, who are tied 46th in the 72-man field, both taking 74 to get around the punishing, 7,831-yard Gary Player creation.

Harrington played with Schwartzel and former Sun City winner Lee Westwood, who shot 70. But after rolling in an 18-footer for an opening birdie, he bogeyed the second and third, and double-bogeyed the sixth before playing his last 10 holes in one-under.

Greystones' Dunne, ranked 14th in the Race to Dubai and seeking a win that would catapult him into the world's top 50, was on the back foot after starting with three straight bogeys. Birdies at the 10th and 15th got him back to one-over par, but he had little luck on the greens and bogeyed the short 16th.

On the PGA Tour, at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, 2015 winner Graeme McDowell made five birdies in a two-under-par 69 at El Camaleon Golf Club in Mexico to trail clubhouse leader Patton Kizzire by seven strokes.

Kizzire (21) made 10 birdies in a nine-under 62 to lead by two shots from Vaughn Taylor and by three from world No 10 Rickie Fowler as West Waterford's Seamus Power shot a rollercoaster 70.

  • Nedbank Golf Challenge, Live, Sky Sports Golf, 8.0am
  • OHL Classic at Mayakoba, Live, Sky Sports Golf, 6.0pm

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport