Practice makes perfect as Shane Lowry could attest after managing to birdie five of his closing six holes in a round of 69 on the opening day of the Spanish Open in Barcelona.
Lowry had spent more than an hour on Wednesday under the watchful eye of coach Neil Manchip practising his bunker play on the Real Club de Golf El Prat.
And the work paid off when Lowry's second shot into the par-five 18th caught a greenside bunker. Lowry then played a superb 25-metre shot to just two feet from the flag for a birdie.
"I said to my caddie, Dermot, that this is the shot we'd been practising for so long yesterday, so it was great to play it so well," said Lowry.
Lowry had recorded back-to-back bogeys at the eighth and ninth holes and started his run at the leaders when he holed a 20-foot putt for birdie at the 13th and then followed that by putting a nine-iron to six feet at the next and holing the birdie putt.
He parred the 15th and then landed a six-iron to eight feet at the 16th, using a lob-wedge to pitch-in for birdie from 40 yards ahead of the bunker shot at the par-five, last hole.
It left Lowry trailing three strokes behind Scottish rookie Scott Jamieson, who posted a 66 to sit one clear of four players -- England's Steve Webster, India's Jeev Milka Singh, French rookie Romain Wattel and Spain's Pablo Larrazabal -- who signed for 67s.
Dubliner Peter Lawrie is best of the four Irish after starting with a bogey but then picking up five birdies in a four-under-par 68.
Lawrie finds himself grouped for the first two days with Spain's Ignacio Garrido, who he beat in a play-off to win the 2008 Spanish Open.
And Lawrie revealed he's uncertain if he will contest next week's Majorca Open, given his wife Philippa is expecting the couple's fourth child.
Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin posted a one-over-par 73 and Damien McGrane a horror 10-over-par 82 that included just one birdie but also five bogeys and three double bogeys.
It is McGrane's worst score in two years since he signed for an 84 on day two of the 2009 Ballantine's Championship in South Korea.
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