Shane Lowry has a real ‘Italian Job’ now on his hands after bogeying two of his closing four holes in a very frustrating one-over par round of 72 on the opening day of the Italian Open in Rome.
Lowry was back to level par, after three earlier birdies and a similar number of bogeys, in stepping-up to tackle the par-4 eighth hole or the 17th of his round on the host Olgiata course on the northern outskirts of the Italian capital.
The current Open Champion, playing alongside overwhelming crowd favourite and last year’s winner of the Open Championship, Francesco Molinari, then proceeded to leak his drive left off the tee.
Lowry could be clearly heard by a SKY Sports on-course microphone blurting out his disgust: “Oh s***! It’s ****ing going out-of-bounds”.
The Offaly man was totally unaware his comments had been heard on TV with the SKY commentary team quickly apologising for the Irishman’s outburst.
In fact, Lowry’s tee shot hit a small wooden fence serving as ‘OB’ with his ball landing in an impossible spot behind a tree leaving the current World No. 18 no option but to take a penalty drop on route to a fourth bogey in his round of one-over par.
It sees Lowry lying a shot outside the projected level par cut-off mark with the Clara golfer needing to play all four days if he’s to regain the leading Race to Dubai reins.
Graeme McDowell, winner of the 2004 Italian Open in Milan, is the best of the four Irish in signing for a two-under par 69.
McDowell, who has joined forces with highly respected Houston-based coach, Kevin Kirk, had spoken of a new attitude prior to the event and the signs are encouraging after a bright start for the former US Open champ.
Meanwhile Greystones Paul Dunne, who is desperately needing a decent finish to ensure he regains his Tour card, regrouped after falling to two-over through 11 holes to birdie three of his closing six holes in a one-under par 70.
Dunne has missed the halfway cut in nine of his past 11 events and has slipped to 111th on the Race to Dubai money list.
Three time Major winner Padraig Harrington, returning to competition after the recent 2020 Ryder Cup ‘Year-To-Go’ ceremonies in Wisconsin, was left lamenting two double bogeys over his last four holes in a round of three-over par 74.
At the top of the tree, Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen, wearing his distinctive James Bond-like hat, superbly picked off seven birdies in a bogey-free seven-under par 64 to lead by a shot.
South African-born Rory Sabbatini, now a Slovakian citizen, posted a 65 using a yellow golf ball to be in second place on six-under.
European Ryder Cup captain, Harrington has already confirmed to Irish Golfer Magazine that the 43-year old and six-time winner on the PGA Tour, also now a member of the European Tour, is eligible to qualify for the 2020 European Ryder Cup team.
Meanwhile world No. 5 Justin Rose, the highest ranked in the field, signalled his intentions early on and is amongst five players in third place on five-under par.
“It was nice to birdie my first hole but after playing four or five poor holes, I really had to grind. It was good to be just one-over through six holes but then in making a birdie on seven I sort of reset my goals,” he said.
“I broke the rest of my round into blocks of three holes at a time and my goal then was to be one-under for individual set of three holes, and try and get into the house at three or four under.
“I had a nice little hot run to actually birdie three in a row from the 13th and that helped much more into the flow as I rolled it really, really well.”
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