Monday 20 November 2017

Lowry 'disaster' wrecks shot at taking on world

Graeme McDowell plays out of the rough during the first round of the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne
Graeme McDowell plays out of the rough during the first round of the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne

GOLF William S Callahan

IT was a mazy round in keeping with Graeme McDowell's crazy year.

The Portrush golfer, a three-time winner in Europe and the US during a wildly inconsistent season, had an eagle, five birdies, four bogeys and two double-bogeys on his card at Royal Melbourne.

Yet McDowell played so brilliantly in patches during this one-over-par 73, he'll surely set off a few fireworks over the weekend at the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf.

Sadly, McDowell and team-mate Shane Lowry's hopes of clinching a third victory for Ireland at the World Cup effectively expired as a first-round 75 by the Clara man left them tied 16th on five-over, 10 shots behind Danish sizzlers Thomas Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen.

"Bit of a disaster today but, hey, that's golf. There's always tomorrow," Lowry (26) tweeted, putting on a brave face after what must have felt like a punch in the solar plexus after months of keen anticipation of his first World Cup.

But McDowell still had a lot to play for, even if he went into the second round in the small hours of this morning six shots behind leaders Bjorn and American Kevin Streelman in the individual championship.

Though he waited until seven to register his first par, McDowell was level through the turn after an eagle two at nine, where he holed out spectacularly with a mid-iron from the fairway.

After dropping a shot at 13, McDowell rebounded with lovely birdies at 15 and 16, sinking a 40-foot raker at the latter, before making his second double-bogey six of the day at 18.

PROBLEMS

His problems began when he pull-hooked his final tee-shot into deep rough, then hit a tree branch, his ball falling straight down into the long grass. He put his next in a right greenside bunker; made a splendid escape to six feet and two-putted.

Adam Scott, favoured for the individual prize after back-to-back victories in the Aussie PGA and Masters, imploded with a quintuple-bogey nine on 12 after losing one tee-shot and hitting another into an unplayable lie.

Scott wallowed in 46th with Lowry on four-over. Yet Jason Day kept home flags flying with a 68, a stirring effort considering he lost eight relatives when Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines last week.

England's Matthew Nixon led at the South African Open after a chip-in eagle three at his penultimate hole, the eighth, eased him to eight-under-par. The 24-year-old had a career low 22 putts in his first-round 64 at Johannesburg's Glendower Golf Club.

Nixon, winless after 64 European Tour appearances since 2011, led Italy's Marco Crespi and South African Jbe Kruger by one, with Retief Goosen (66) and Charl Schwartzel (67) looming large in his mirror.

Simon Thornton was the only Irishman to break par, a 71 leaving him tied 44th. Gareth Maybin shot 72 to hover right on the projected cut line. Peter Lawrie (74), Paul McGinely (75), Michael Hoey (75), Damien McGrane (77) and Justin Brink (79) struggled.

World Cup of Golf ,

Live, tomorrow, Sky Sports 4, 1.0am

South African Open,

Live, Sky Sports 4, 8.30am

Irish Independent

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