Saturday 18 November 2017

McGrane picks his way up to joint third with display of craft and knowledge

Damien McGrane
Damien McGrane

Karl MacGinty

DAMIEN McGRANE picked his way into contention at the Desert Classic yesterday with the craft of a master locksmith.

Few know the Emirates Club better, as the diminutive Kells man (42) clearly demonstrated during a first-round 66 which earned him a share of third on six-under with, among others, title-holder Stephen Gallacher.

McGrane has played the Majlis 39 times since his Dubai debut in 2004, even forcing his way into the final group with eventual winner Tiger Woods on Saturday and Sunday in 2008.

"I played nicely, good and steady from start to finish and I enjoyed it," said McGrane. The highlight of a satisfying day's work was his eagle three at 10, where he'd 268 yards to the pin, hit his five-wood 15 feet past and drained the putt.

OPPORTUNITIES

"There are plenty of opportunities there and my eye is in, so I made a few putts," added the Meathman.

He landed five birdies during his afternoon round, when lightning-quick greens hardened under the desert sun, demanding pinpoint accuracy.

"If you're even slightly out of position, you've no chance of getting it close to the flag," he said. A couple of chances went a-begging, like his six-footer for birdie at 17, but as McGrane quipped: "You can't hole them all. Sure if you did, you'd be Rory McIlroy."

Shane Lowry birdied 17 and 18 for a 70 to put a nice gloss on an otherwise testing day.

"I said at the outset I needed not to push things too quickly and that was my attitude today. Hopefully, that's my poor round for the week," said the Clara man, tied 35th on two-under with Michael Hoey after the Ballymoney native also shot 70.

Gareth Maybin lay just inside the projected cut mark after his 71 but Simon Thornton (75) and Peter Lawrie (76) have catching up to do.

THE DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC,

LIVE, SKY SPORTS 4, 6.0AM

THE PHOENIX OPEN

LIVE, SKY SPORTS 4, 8.0

Irish Independent

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