Wednesday 25 April 2018

McDowell takes rocky road towards top of leaderboard

Bernie McGuire in Singapore

Graeme McDowell put himself in contention for a fourth victory this season, not to mention the Race to Dubai title, all thanks to a borrowed wedge on day two of the Barclays Singapore Open.

McDowell was among over 100 players who had to return to the course early to complete their first round after a thunderstorm delayed play on Thursday.

And the current world No 10 grabbed a share of eighth place when he rounded off his opening effort with a six-under-par 65, three strokes behind the in-form Spaniard Ignacio Garrido, who had earlier signed for a 62.

McDowell started his second round in sizzling style with four straight birdies in an eventual three-under-par 68. He now lies in a share for third place on nine-under-par.

McDowell trails Australia's Adam Scott, who is chasing a third Barclays Singapore Open title in five years. Scott finished with a 65 for a 12-under-par tally. Defending champion Ian Poulter birdied six of his closing seven holes in an eight-under-par 63 to move to second place on 10-under-par.

Michael Hoey also birdied four holes in succession from the 11th in a 67 to be tied 15th at six-under-par -- one clear of Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin (72).

McDowell had reshaped his Callaway wedge when playing the par-four 16th near the end of his first round after he put his approach shot into a hazard up against some rocks on the left side of the hole.

"Rather than take a penalty drop, Kenny (Comboy -- his caddy) suggested we play the ball out, even though it was up against a rock," said McDowell. "I actually played the shot well to about 20 feet and managed to get a good par given what had happened.

"But in hitting the rock hard it damaged the club badly at the bottom of the shaft, altering the loft and making it unusable." The impact of hitting the rocks was clearly visible as McDowell walked from the hazard a little shocked and shaking, wondering if he'd hurt himself. Fortunately, he was fine.

In the short time in between rounds, McDowell sought out Dane Thomas Bjorn, who loaned him a spare Callaway wedge.

"It was fortunate Thomas had a spare wedge, but it was not easy playing 30 holes out there in a day," said McDowell.

Peter Lawrie added a level-par 71 to his opening 67 to stay on four-under-par. But Shane Lowry will have an anxious overnight wait to see if he's made the cut despite recording eight birdies, including four in succession from the sixth, in a 66 for a three-under-par tally.

Triple Major winner Padraig Harrington was at two-under-par after 15 holes when poor light halted play. Darren Clarke, who recorded a first-round 66, dropped four shots to lie at one-under, while fellow Celtic Manor vice-captain Paul McGinley faces the cut as he was seven-over-par after 12 holes when poor light halted play.

Gary Murphy's next event will be the Tour's Q-School after rounds of 79 and 72 gave him a nine-over total.

Irish Independent

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