Lowry delighted with his ‘back to school’ Abu Dhabi HSBC opener

Bernie McGuire

Shane Lowry (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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By Bernie McGuire in Abu Dhabi.

Shane Lowry was delighted with his ‘first day back at school’ efforts in posting a five-under-par 67 on day one of the Abu Dhabi Championship on the Yas Links course in the UAE capital.

After watching TV coverage of the morning rounds from the comfort of his Yas Island hotel room, it was a little cooler and also windy in the afternoon when Lowry took to the Kyle Phillips designed course.

The 2019 Abu Dhabi champion will head into day two sharing ninth place, four shots adrift of Scotland’s Scott Jamieson who signed for a bogey-free and new course record 63 to take a one-shot lead into day two of the Rolex Series $8m event.

In-form Viktor Hovland, winner of last month’s Tiger Woods-hosted Hero World Challenge is second with an eight-under-par 64.

Lowry is returning to competition for the first time since last being in the UAE for November’s DP World Tour Championship having got seriously back into his golf just recently in moving his family back to the Bears Club in Florida.

And he could not have wished for a brighter start in racing to five-under through 11 holes thanks to birdies at four, seven, the ninth hole and then back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11. His only bogey was on 12 before a sixth birdie of his round at the 15th where he chipped in to move back to five-under for his round; Lowry taking off his cap and bowing to the crowd in celebration.

“It was a good day’s work though a bit like the first day back at school because you never know what is going to happen,” he said.

“I was happy with my score. Even though I played okay I wasn’t aggressive enough and had a different tempo but overall, I felt I did well and a 67 is a good starting score.

“I would have taken that score on the first tee but then I was sitting in my hotel room this morning looking at TV coverage of the morning play and the lads were shooting the lights out. So, you’re thinking it looks as though it’s going to be easy but then it’s going to be windy tomorrow and feel as though you have to go and shoot the lights out in posting a low score today,

“There is always going to be a little rust in the game not having played since the end of last year.  It was good to get off to a decent start but then I missed a couple of short putts on the front nine and then didn’t really make anything on my back nine.

“Saying, that, this is only the first round of my year and it’s going to be a long ole season.”

Padraig Harrington completed his round shortly after Lowry in signing for a one-over-par 73 while poor light soon after halted play with Jonathan Caldwell at three-over-par and three holes to play.

There is some 15 players still to complete their opening round

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