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Lowry hopes to nail down Open place in Cologne

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Shane Lowry

Shane Lowry

Shane Lowry

SHANE Lowry will be seeking to bounce back to form in the BMW International Open which starts at Golf Club Gut Larchenhof in Cologne today.

Ranked 19th in the Race to Dubai with earnings of €527,770, Lowry – who failed to make the cut in the Irish Open last week – needs to regain his touch on the greens to confirm his place in the British Open at Hoylake in three weeks.

The top five European Tour members and ties in the Race to Dubai standings next Sunday who are not already exempt will qualify for the British Open.

Since most of the golfers currently ahead of Lowry on the European Money List are already through, he merely has to hold his place in the top 20 to be mathematically certain of making his third appearance in the Open.

Lowry gave his season a timely momentum boost by finishing second in the recent BMW PGA championship. Since then he has finished tied-25th in the Nordea Masters, and missed the weekend play in the US and Irish Opens.

He'd be very pleased if the BMW backing of this tournament in Cologne inspired the same standard of golf that he produced in Wentworth.

TEMPERAMENT

Lowry's big advantage, apart from the quality of his game, is his temperament. He knows how quickly fortunes can ebb and flow on Tour and his first goal this week is to start well and get through to the business end of the week.

Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke are all taking the week off, but there's a nine-man Irish contingent in action at Cologne.

McDowell was the leading Irishman at Fota, finishing joint sixth, but not far behind him was Michael Hoey in joint eighth. Hoey joins Lowry, Gareth Maybin, Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane, Simon Thornton, Kevin Phelan and David Higgins in the field.

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Meanwhile, Tiger Woods will command the headlines as the former world No 1 returns to competitive golf at the Quicken Loans National at Congressional.

The 14-time Major winner has been out of action for the past three months after undergoing back surgery in March.

The Masters and the US Open are among the 15 tournaments he has missed during his lay-off. Woods had originally targeted a return at next month's Open at Hoylake but is ahead of schedule in his recovery.

Chief among his aims is qualifying for the PGA Tour's FedExCup play-offs. The 38-year-old must climb from 209th in the standings into the top 125 places.

Woods, who has slipped to fifth in the world rankings, said: "I am actually ahead of schedule where everyone thought I would be at."

BMW INTERNATIONAL,

Live, Sky Sports 4, 10.30am

QUICKEN LOANS NATIONAL,

Live, Sky Sports 4, 7.30pm


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