Shane Lowry’s opening round of 71 leaves the Republic of Ireland’s Ryder Cup hopeful eight shots back of leader, Sami Välimäki (-9), after the opening round of play at the D&D Real Czech Masters at the Albatross Golf Resort in Prague.
Padraig Harrington also finished the day on one-under-par while John Murphy leads the Irish contingent with a score of two-under, one shot better off than his fellow Irishmen.
With Lowry chasing down Robert MacIntyre for the final automatic place on Luke Donald’s Ryder Cup team through the European Points List, the Clara native got off to the red-hot start he needed.
Birdies on the opening two holes were followed up with another pair of consecutive birdies on the fourth and fifth and Lowry’s beautifully weighted approach shot on the fifth was symptomatic of how well he was playing.
But also somewhat symptomatic of Lowry’s play in recent appearances, a poor run of holes torpedoed the Irishman’s chances of finishing the day close to the top of the leaderboard.
The Offaly man started his back nine on four under par but a bogey on the 11th began a slight dip in Lowry’s play, and back-to-back bogeys on the 13th and 14th almost completely undone his immaculate start.
Lowry played the remaining holes to par, leaving him with a lot of work to do to remain competitive in this competition – and do enough to best MacIntyre, who currently sits tied for seventh on six-under-par.
Harrington, like Lowry, got off to a bright start with birdies on the first and third giving the three-time major winner a score of two-under-par through his opening three holes.
The veteran golfer remained steady through his remaining holes on the front nine and even improved on his positive showing with a birdie on the 11th, which left him on three-under facing the remaining seven holes.
The 12th would be Harrington’s undoing, however, with a double bogey undoing much of his good work on the holes previous.
A birdie on the 17th looked like it had given him a share of the Irish lead alongside John Murphy, but he bogeyed his final hole which meant he finished his round on one-under alongside Lowry.
Top of the Irish scorers after the opening day is John Murphy, with an even-keeled opening round of two-under-par.
An opening birdie hole was wiped out by a bogey on the following hole, but that would be the last blemish on the Kinsale native’s scorecard.
Another red score on the 17th set the 25-year-old up for his back nine on one-under, and a birdie on his second to last hole of the day capped off a solid showing from Murphy on the opening day of play.
Murphy gets his second round underway at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon while Lowry and Harrington are out early at 8:10 a.m. and 8:20 a.m. respectively.