Power in the hunt but Lowry well off pace at Wells Fargo
A bogey on his final hole was a disappointing finish to Seamus Power's day but the Waterford man could still console himself by being well in contention at the Wells Fargo Championship in Wilmington, North Carolina.
A four-under par round of 68 left him tied for sixth place with Italy's Francesco Molinari setting the early pace two shots ahead.
Starting at the 10th, Power got off to a flying start as he got to the turn in four-under-par 32 and he picked up another shot with a birdie at the par 5 sixth hole to put himself right in contention.
However, a three-putt bogey on the last in which he missed a four-footer for par spoilt his day a little, however, he was best of the Irish contenders.
Graeme McDowell had 15 pars in a solid, one-under par round of 71, however it was another difficult day for Shane Lowry.
The Offaly man encountered a familiar adversary yesterday - a cold putter - in a frustrating first round as he carded a three-over-par 75 to leave him well adrift of the early pace and facing an uphill struggle to be around for the weekend.
Lowry has admitted that he needs to be patient this year, especially on the greens, as he seeks another big finish to kick-start his season.
But once again the putts failed to drop for him yesterday as he bogeyed the fifth, sixth and eighth as well as the tenth. The high point of his round - and his sole birdie on the card - came with a four at the par-five 12th before he parred his way home without another birdie.
The early clubhouse leader was Italy's Molinari who scorched his way to eight birdies and two bogeys, including a run of six birdies in eight holes in the middle of his round.
World No 1 Dustin Johnson, who returned after his Masters mishap, showed few signs of ring-rust or the back pain which forced him to miss the year's first Major, opening with a two-under 70.
"As far as physically, no issues," Johnson said afterwards. "I just need to get some rounds in, get some more reps, but I feel like the golf swing's in good shape. If I hit it like I did today the next few days, then I'll be right there on Sunday."
There were certainly some missteps in his round, with two bogeys on the card. Still, Johnson hit his first 10 greens on way to an impressive 16 of 18 greens in regulation.
Perhaps more importantly, he showed no lingering issues off the tee, swinging freely and without hindrance.
The 32-year-old entered Wilmington as winner of his past three events. On the season, Johnson has five top 10s in seven appearances, and leads the PGA Tour in earnings, strokes gained, driving distance and FedEx Cup points.
Meanwhile, 20 Irish players will be among a 144-strong Lytham Trophy field at Royal Lytham & St Annes this weekend. Colm Campbell (Warrenpoint), Alex Gleeson (Castle), Stuart Grehan (Tullamore), Conor O'Rourke (Naas) and Robin Dawson (Tramore) will be hoping to further their Walker Cup claims in the prestigious event.
- Wells Fargo Championship, Live, Sky Sports 4, 7.0pm