Defending champ Graeme McDowell opened-up his defence of the Corales Puntacana Championship with a two-under par 70 in the Dominican Republic.
McDowell, who skipped hosting this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open to continue a career wish in defending his victory titles, grabbed three birdies and dropped just one shot on the stunning Corales Golf Club course laid out on the shores of the Caribbean.
Highlight of ‘GMac’s’ round in the sauna-like conditions was back-to-back birdies at his third and fourth holes.
Fellow Irishman Seamus Power was also in the clubhouse with a 70 along with McDowell’s Lake Nona in Orlando neighbour, Henrik Stenson.
Power had muscled his way to four-under through 10 holes but completed his closing eight holes in two-over.
The West Waterford golfer had been fifth in the event two years ago while Stenson is making his debut in the $US 4m event.
Austrian Sepp Straka was the early clubhouse leader in the $US 4m event in signing for a seven-under par 65 that included an eagle and five birdies.
“Patience was the key today as it is not really one where you can push it. It’s not — you can shoot a low round out here, but it’s got to be a consistent low round, you’ve got to let the birdies come to you,” said Straka.
“It’s my third event of officially a new season but I haven’t really reset from the last season. I think I had two weeks off, so really just kind of rolling into the next week and just trying to keep improving, keep shooting some low numbers.
“But then it’s really hot, it’s really hot out there. I sweated a lot. I generally sweat a lot anyways, so I feel like everybody’s kind of on my level this week. No, it’s hot out there. The greens are rolling nice, they’re rolling really nice.”
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