Sunday 18 February 2018

Lowry stays in touch at Valderrama despite costly 'bite' at the last

Lowry:
Lowry: "Just when you think you have this course, it jumps up and bites you at the end.” Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

William S Callahan

Shane Lowry did little wrong on the 18th hole but walked off with a double-bogey six for a disappointing end to his round in the Andalucia Valderrama Masters yesterday.

Lowry had negotiated 17 holes of the unforgiving and treacherous Real Club de Valderrama lay-out to reach three-under par for the day, and a par four on the last would have left him just three off the pace set by leader Joost Luiten.

A well-struck drive worked almost too well for Lowry, as his ball soared long and straight off the tee, only to run out of fairway and finish in rough.

The Irishman's route to the hole was blocked and from there he could only hack out and ended up with a six to finish.

At level-par, particularly on this tough track, Lowry is not out of contention, and he can take heart from the six birdies he scored during 70.

Speaking to Ireland's Meridian Media, Lowry said: "It was a good round. To be honest I didn't have my best stuff out there. I scrambled well and kept the ball in play. Just when you think you have this course, it jumps up and bites you at the end."

Pádraig Harrington shot 73, two-over par for 145, three-over.

"It was a bit of a struggle. I wasn't creating many chances out there. Finishing two-over par leaves a sour taste," he said.

Harrington played alongside rising star Jon Rahm, and the difficulty of Valderrama was shown by Rahm missing the cut with rounds of 74 and 75 for seven-over.

Gary Hurley of Waterford shot 73, a seven-shot improvement on his opening 80, but he also missed the cut.

Host Sergio Garcia, who was in Shane Lowry's group with Andrew 'Beef' Johnston, carded level-par 71.

Masters champion Garcia is in joint second place on five-under with Scott Jamieson and Robert Rock.

Elsewhere, Paul McGinley was the leading Irishman on day one of the Farmfoods European Senior Masters at Forest of Arden yesterday.

McGinley's 70, two-under par, had him in joint third place with Australia's Peter Fowler, and Miguel Angel Martin of Spain.

Commanding

England's Paul Eales was a shot better off in solo second place, but Senior Tour order of merit leader Dennis Clark (USA) stole the show with a 66 for six-under and a commanding three-shot lead over Eales.

Des Smyth, Brendan McGovern and Philip Walton all shot 74. Ronan Rafferty and Eamonn Darcy were on 75 and 76 respectively.

Leona Maguire was among the late starters at LPGA and Symetra Tour Stage 2 qualifying in Venice, Florida.

Maguire only has to complete the four rounds in this no-cut event to gain Symetra Tour status which she hopes to take up in May when she finishes her studies at Duke University.

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