Saturday 24 February 2018

Lowry fails French test after coming eye to eye with old foe

Bernie McGuire in Versailles

It was not that noticeable to spectators but Ireland's Shane Lowry and England's Robert Rock enjoyed a good old slagging match during the opening rounds of the French Open.

It was the first occasion the 2009 Irish Open play-off combatants had faced each other since the then amateur Irish player won the event at Baltray.

"He was having a dig with me about winning and I was having a bit of dig at him about how much money he earned that week but then he always wins that argument," Rock said afterwards.

However, it was Rock who managed to turn the tables on the Easter Hills Club star in carding a level-par 71 to move to four-under on the Le National course in Versailles.

It left him six strokes behind Spain's Alejandro Canizares, who emerged from more than a two-and-a-half-hour thunderstorm delay late in the afternoon to card a second 66 and move a stroke clear on 10-under par.


Defending champion Martin Kaymer (67) is in second place on nine-under and the delay didn't spoil Dutchman Robert Jan Derksen's delight; he added a 71 to his 63 before the stoppage and so got to watch the Netherlands bundle Brazil out of the World Cup. Derksen is in third place at eight-under par.

Lowry had been looking good, moving to five-under-par for his round with a third straight birdie at the 10th hole. However the 23-year-old then dropped four strokes in two holes, at the par-five 14th and par-four 16th, before bogeying the last to end with a 71 and two-over-par tally and miss only his fourth cut in 16 events this year.

"It's just so disappointing because I had such a great start and then to finish like that, so really I just don't want to talk about it," said Lowry.

Elsewhere, Peter Lawrie birdied the last to move to four-under-par with scores of 71 and 67. Rory McIlroy added a 71 to his earlier 68 to remain at three-under-par, the same total as Damien McGrane (71).

Ballymoney's Michael Hoey (74) and Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin (69) made it through right on the one-over-par cut-off mark despite Hoey double-bogeying his seventh hole and Maybin his 10th.

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