McDowell in the middle of the pack at Close House as Sarit leads the way after a 66

Rian Noctor

Sarit Suwannarut of Thailand (Picture By Ian Walton)

Graeme McDowell is off to a solid start at the international series at Close House on the Asian tour.

The Northern Irishman combined three birdies with three bogeys in Newcastle to shoot a level-par-71 and sit in a tie for 40th place, five shots off the lead.

In an event with plenty of stars from LIV Golf, Thailand’s Sarit Suwannarut fired an opening-round five-under-par 66 to steal the show and  take the lead.


He started on the back nine today, and birdied 10, and 14 before a brilliant two on the 18th – a difficult 185-yard par-three, that could be the scene of much drama come Sunday. He dropped a shot on the second, but recovered with gains on three, six and eight.

“I have been hitting it really well,” he said. “Today was just about the putting, it is all about the putting. Still need to fix my long putting, so I might practice that”, Sarit commented after the round.

Sarit triumphed for the first time on the Asian Tour last year, at the season-ending Indonesian Masters, but has struggled this year, until a top-10 finish in the Mandiri Indonesia Open two weeks ago.

“I had an injury at the beginning of the year, at first it was a back injury, then I got sick, I got COVID, I also had neck and wrist problems,” said the 25-year-old, who was also hampered by COVID last year.

“I took a lot of time off to repair my body, to not get into trouble with injury again, I think that’s worked”, he added.

Lee Westwood, who is the Touring Professional for Close House, also looked set to be among the front runners before a double on his third from the last hole saw him sign for a round of 70.

American Andy Ogletree, who currently leads the Asian Tour and International Series Order of Merits, signed for a 72 and Ian Poulter, who has won twice before on the Asian Tour, was happy to get in the clubhouse among the leaders after a rough second half.

“Damage limitation!” said Poulter.

“Obviously, three-under par through nine and cruising but bogeyed the first hole which is my 10th, a par five, which is suicide, frustrating to do that. I shanked it down the fourth which was not ideal, nearly made par, and had another bogey on the par three with a pulled eight iron, which wasn’t ideal. Dropping three shots on that nine was poor”, he said.

Poulter is another LIV golfer playing on the Asian Tour this week, which offers players who joined LIV a chance at World Ranking points and it’s a family affair for the Poulters this week.

His son, Luke, an amateur, started well with a 72 although made costly mistakes with the short stick.

“He’s one over, he had four three putts! He will probably slap himself around the head, so he has obviously played good golf, and he has not done his job on the putting green. He is a good golfer, and it is great he’s in the field this week”, Poulter said of his son.

Patrick Reed was scheduled to play to try and show US captain Zach Johnson something before the US Ryder Cup captains picks are announced but was forced to pull out due to ‘unforeseen personal circumstances’.

Graeme McDowell gets his second round underway at 7.20am at Close House


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