Wednesday 21 February 2018

Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne recover from difficult Open starts

Shane Lowry of Ireland watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the British Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake
Shane Lowry of Ireland watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the British Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy tees off the 5th during day one of the 2014 Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club

Karl MacGinty

Irish golfers Shane Lowry and Paul Dunne made impressive recoveries on the back nine at the Open at Royal Liverpool on a testing day for golf’s elite.

Amateur Dunne began with double bogey and three successive bogeys to drop to eight over by the end of the front nine, while Lowry also dropped five shots by the turn, with double bogeys at the 7th and 8th holes proving costly.

However both players showed resilience to improve their fortunes on the back nine where he picked up a birdie and rattled off five pars to level par.

Dunne went better again with three successive pars followed by birdies on 13, 14 and 15 to move back to +5.

Darren Clarke began with birdie, par and bogey for his second round to maintain his score of three under, just three shots off the lead. South African George Coetzee showed what could be done despite the windy conditions at Royal Liverpool as he celebrated his birthday in style with a round of 69.

Coetzee, a Liverpool FC fan, turned 28 on Friday and gave himself the best possible present with a round which catapulted him up the leaderboard to sit just one stroke behind the overnight leader McIlroy.

He began the day at two under and went to the turn in level par 35 but had five birdies coming home - including three in succession from the 12th - to ensure a bogey at 17 did not put a dampener on his day.

Yet before McIlroy can look forward to a Wentworth-style showdown with his good pal Lowry over the weekend, he must first beat his infamous Friday hoodoo.

Though he produced a glowing performance to lead at the Majors for the first time since his record-shattering victory at the 2012 US PGA, McIlroy faced more questions about his second-round demons than his glittering golf game.

This unsettling phenomenon came into clear focus last Friday when he followed up a course-record 64 in the first round of the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen with a nightmare 78.

Remarkably, McIlroy confronts his demons head on, explaining he became aware of the problem in April: "I'd a bad Friday afternoon at Augusta and then just made the cut.

"Then I started horrifically on Friday at The Wells Fargo Championship in Quail Hollow and did the same at Sawgrass. That's like three tournaments in a row. That's when I became conscious of it. Maybe it's having higher expectations going out on Friday after a good first round. I just have to put these aside."

Lowry, second only to McIlroy at Europe's showpiece BMW PGA, will draw on that Wentworth experience this week on a golf links that makes him feel very much at home.

"I feel very comfortable in these surroundings and that is key," said the 27-year-old Clara native. "I feel like my golf is where I want it. I feel mentally I am where I want to be. I just have to try and stick my head down and see what happens."

Irish Independent

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