Sport Golf

Tuesday 20 March 2018

McDowell and Lowry way off the pace at World Cup in Melbourne

Graeme McDowell of Ireland celebrates after making his second shot on the 9th hole during day one of the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne Golf Course
Graeme McDowell of Ireland celebrates after making his second shot on the 9th hole during day one of the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne Golf Course
Shane Lowry of Ireland hits a tee shot during day one of the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne Golf Course

Ian Ransom

GRAEME McDowell and Shane Lowry struggled at the World Cup of Golf in Melbourne today, recording rounds of one-over and four-over respectively.

The Ireland pairing ended up in 16th place in the team standings after the first round.

McDowell had enjoyed one of the shots of the day, holing a long-range chip for an eagle on the par-four ninth, but stumbled with double-bogeys on the sixth and 18th.

Meanwhile, American Kevin Streelman bogeyed two of his last three holes to fall back into a share of a one-stroke lead on five under with Denmark's Thomas Bjorn after the first round of the $8m tournament.

Streelman, a late choice to represent the defending champion United States team, had torn up Royal Melbourne's back nine with five birdies in six holes but dropped shots on the tricky 16th and 18th to card a 66 and join Bjorn on five-under.

The pair finished a stroke ahead of Welshman Stuart Manley, South Korea's K.J. Choi and Scotland's Martin Laird.

"I was very pleased with that start," the 35-year-old Streelman said after upstaging world number seven compatriot Matt Kuchar (71), who won the last World Cup for the US with Gary Woodland in 2011 when it was purely a team event.

"It's just an incredible golf course, I love it... I just had a lot of fun there to be honest."

The tournament's format has been changed from being solely a team event to primarily an individual one with a team component.

Sixty players are competing for individual honours while 26 two-player teams are competing for the team prize.

Having given themselves every chance of winning the individual trophy, Streelman and European Tour journeyman Bjorn also put their nations in the box seat for team honours.

Streelman and Kuchar's combined score of five-under left the United States level with Denmark's Bjorn and Thorbjorn Olesen (71), three strokes ahead of Portugal's Jose-Filipa Lima (71) and Ricardo Santos (69).

Along with fluky gusts of wind, the flint-hard greens at the famed sandbelt course conspired to leave most of the favourites grinding through bogey-strewn back nines, but only one disastrous hole was needed to leave local hero Adam Scott all but out of contention.

The world number two had grafted patiently to one-under at the turn but racked up a quintuple-bogey nine at the par-four 12th after putting two tee-shots into a tangle of scrub and losing his first ball.

The 33-year-old put his third tee-shot into light rough before over-cooking his approach and ended up missing a 12-foot putt for eight to post his worst single-hole score in a PGA Tour event for six years.

Scott never recovered, finishing four-over, but there was some cheer for local fans as his compatriot Jason Day shot a solid 68 to be two off the pace, alone on three-under.

Day, grieving the loss of eight relatives in the Philippines who were killed in Typhoon Haiyan, rolled in five birdies and two bogeys in his first round in five weeks.

Portugal are at two under in outright third after Ricardo Santos (69) and Jose-Filipe Lima (71) produced decent rounds.

Canada (David Hearn and Brad Fritsch), Scotland (Laird and Stephen Gallacher) and South Korea (Choi and Bae Sang-Moon) are the other nations under par - locked at one under.


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