Sport Golf

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Lowry sets focus firmly on dubai

Italy's Edoardo Molinari follows the path of his ball after chipping onto the 7th green during yesterday's second round.
Italy's Edoardo Molinari follows the path of his ball after chipping onto the 7th green during yesterday's second round.

Bernie McGuire at Villamoura

Shane Lowry finds himself in a position in the Race to Dubai that is the envy of many of his European Tour colleagues including fellow Irish Open winner, Richard Finch.

Lowry is lying 60th on the money list with the leading 60 being eligible to contest the season-ending Dubai World Championship.

Lowry looks set to improve that position following a Portugal Masters second round 69 for a seven-under-par tally, while Finch, who captured the Irish Open in 2008 -- a year before Lowry -- is placed 62nd on the money list and is looking to overtake Lowry after a Day 2 65 for a share of fifth place at nine- under-par.

"You want to be top-60 to qualify for Dubai at the end of the year, so Shane's in that cut-off spot at present where most of us want to be," said Finch.

On the plus side for Lowry, is the fact he's contesting the next two events in Spain before heading to Singapore for the Barclays Singapore Open, starting November 11. The following week Lowry will travel to Japan for the Dunlop Phoenix Open, an event where he finished fourth last year.

If all goes well, Lowry will then journey to Dubai to take his place in an event where fellow Irishman Graeme McDowell will be looking to be crowned European No 1.


However, Lowry indicated that if his Race to Dubai top-60 position is perilous, the Esker Hills star will skip Japan in favour of joining McDowell and Rory McIlroy that same week in the UBS Hong Kong Open.

"I didn't play the Dubai World Championship last year, so that's the big goal this season," said Lowry, who started his second round with a 30-foot birdie putt.

"I've got these three events in Portugal and Spain, plus Singapore, so that's four European Tour counting events to qualify for Dubai, but if I have to, I'll skip Japan and play in Hong Kong if my position on the money list is such that I'm borderline."

Lowry starts the third round on the Algarve just a stroke behind the leading Irish duo of Peter Lawrie and Paul McGinley.

There were large roars of approval around the 18th green on the Oceanico Victoria course, when Lawrie landed his five-iron second shot, from 182-yards out, to just nine inches. Lawrie's birdie was the fourth over his closing five holes, for an eventual 68, leaving him at eight-under-par and tied in 11th position with McGinley.

"With so many Irish in the crowd following Michael Hoey and myself, the two of us were having a contest with Christian Nilsson, who had the Swedes following him, to see who could provoke the most noise," said Lawrie. "I think the Irish won pretty convincingly."

McGinley also delighted the Irish following his group when he chipped from rough at the last to just two feet to save par in a score of 70, after the disappointment of missing the cut last week in Scotland.

"It's just building on the groundwork that I have been doing, but then the Ryder Cup did take a lot out of me," he said. "I feel I am not that far off from playing really good and now, heading to the weekend, I am looking forward to continuing to play well."

Dutchman Maarten Lafeber heads the €3m event by two shots after holing his second for eagle at the par-four second hole, en route to a 67 and a 13-under-par total. Finland's Mikko Illonen (68) is next best on 11-under, just ahead of Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin.

Francesco Molinari shot the best round of his career, a 10-under-par 62 to burst from 102nd position overnight to tied in 11th.

County Down's Simon Thornton missed the cut with scores of 72 and 74.

Portugal Masters,

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Irish Independent

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