Thursday 22 March 2018

Lowry close to an ace on infamous 16th hole


Shane Lowry. Photo: Getty Images
Shane Lowry. Photo: Getty Images

William S Callahan

Shane Lowry earned one of the biggest cheers of the day at TPC Scotsdale as he came within a whisker of a hole-in-one at the infamous 16th hole in the opening round of the Phoenix Open.

At one under, the Offaly man clipped his shot to four feet on the 153 yard hole and birdied to move to two-under having started on the 10th, before finishing on one under.

The seats surrounding the green weren't quite as packed for Lowry as they were later in the day when, as the refreshments flowed, players were booed for poor approach shots. On the 16th tee, Justin Thomas was six under par, however, after a double-bogey, he looked to the heavens with the crowd getting louder and enjoying their own noise.

Thomas wasn't the only one who wasn't laughing as Rickie Fowler also bogeyed the hole and was loudly jeered by the raucous crowd on his way to a five-under round of 66.

"I was a little disappointed in some of the stuff that was said," Fowler said. "The normal boos for missing a green, that's fine. But leave the heckling to a minimum and make it fun, support the guys out playing."

The world number seven played with a pin in his cap in memory of seven-year-old Griffin Connell, who was born with a rare airway disorder and became a yearly fixture in his gallery at TPC Scottsdale.

"He was just a huge fan of the game," Fowler said. "We looked forward to seeing him and the family every week out here at the tournament every year. So it's unfortunate we don't have him here this week because he was fun to see."

Fowler bounced back from his disappointment at 16 to birdie the final two holes and take the clubhouse lead with Billy Horschel, Bryson DeChambeau, Chris Kirk and Chesson Hadley.

In the weather-delayed Maybank Championship in Malaysia, Darren Clarke has a fighting chance of making his first cut on the European Tour since the 2016 Open.

While he double-bogeyed his second hole, he made six birdies, including two to finish, in a level par 72 as in-form Englishman Chris Paisley carded a bogey-free 65 to lead.

At the Final Stage of the Staysure Tour Qualifying School in Portugal, Argentina's Rafael Gomez closed with a 66 to win the race for just five cards by four shots on seven-under-par from English amateur John Kemp.

The others went to Paul Streeter, David Shacklady and Argentina's Mauricio Molina.

Irish Independent

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