How many decent rounds of golf begin with a bogey? That’s how both Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy commenced on day one before regrouping with respectable efforts at The Memorial in Dublin, Ohio.
Lowry needed three shots from the fringe at the first in taking a bogey five but did end his day’s work with a birdie in a round of a three-under 69. McIlroy, contesting the event for a 12th occasion, three-putted the first from 21-feet for his opening hole bogey on route to a two-under-par 70.
Six players lead the way in ‘Jack’s Event’ posting five-under 67s and they include – Aussie Cameron Smith, South Korean K H Lee, Canadian McKenzie Hughes and the Americans Cameron Young, Luke List and David Riley.
The current World No. 39 ranked Lowry is returning to competition after his T23rd finish at the PGA Championship and also teeing-up in Ohio a year ago when he shared sixth place.
Lowry, dressed all in black aside from his white shoes, shares 11th place following his round of five birdies and two bogeys. The Clara golfer’s round was capped with four birdies over his inward nine, and at the 11th, 12th 14th and sending a 20-footer for birdie into the cup at 18.
“It was a nice finish and I have been playing well of late”, said Lowry. “I just love this place, love this golf course and while it was a bit of a slow start to be one-over through nine, I got it going on the back nine, and to hold a good putt there at the last was a good way to finish”.
However, Lowry hit just half of the 14 fairways but he was more concerned about missing greens. “A couple of those misses were into fairway bunkers but it’s tricky out here, and it’s tight. It’s not so much where you miss the fairways but more so if you miss the greens”, Lowry added.
“You are going to miss quite a few greens out here, and the course has softened-up, so it is a little easier but you do have to be careful where you miss the greens.
“Sayting that, it’s more a second shot golf course but then it would be nice to hit more than seven fairways tomorrow”.
McIlroy capped his day’s work in the $8.7m event with four birdies from the eighth to 14th holes, and with the best probably being at the par-3 eighth hole where he holed an 11-footer.
He had a chance to end with a birdie and tie Lowry, but just missing the cup from 12-footer for McIlroy to end his day just outside the top-20.
However, there was the bizarre incident when playing partner Hideki Matsuyama was disqualified for using a 3-wood that he had painted white paint on the face of the club. Last year’s Masters champion revealed he had placed the paint on the club while on the range but forgot to have it removed.
It meant that McIlroy and playing partner Patrick Reed played the closing nine as a twosome, and that will be also the scenario on day two.
Seamus Power had been out earlier in the day shooting a level par 72 and in an effort that included four birdies along with two bogeys, but sticking out on his card like the proverbial dog’s hind leg is a 16th hole double-bogey where he found the water guarding the green at the par-3 hole.
Next month’s Barbasol Championship defending champion ended the day just inside the top-50.