Lowry in love with Wentworth after solid opener in title defence

Ronan MacNamara

Shane Lowry (Photo by Stuart Kerr/R&A via Getty Images)

Shane Lowry got the defence of his BMW PGA Championship title off to a solid start with a three-under 69 on Thursday morning at Wentworth.

Lowry got off to a rapid start with three birdies in his first seven holes including two two’s on the par-3 2nd and 5th where he hit darts to within five feet before rolling in a twelve footer for his third birdie of the day on seven. The defending champion did drop shots on the ninth and tenth but recovered the damage with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 12th before holing from 12-feet for his third two of the day on 14.

It left the Clara man just three shots off the morning pace but the afternoon has seen some low scores and he now finds himself back in the pack, five shots behind Marcus Helligkilde in a share of 19th place.


“Not bad. I got off to a great stat start, was 3-under through seven,” said Lowry whose only top-10 since his win here last year came at the Horizon Irish Open last weekend.

“Love this place. See my way around here quite nicely. A couple of bogeys around the turn which wasn’t great. But finished all rate. I would have liked to birdie one of last two holes. I think the course is playing a little bit more difficult this year. There’s a lot more rough and a little bit firmer. So 3-under is not a bad score.”

Lowry was part of an all Ryder Cup three-ball with close friend Tommy Fleetwood and Sepp Straka with much speculation as to whether Luke Donald is trialling some pairings this week. All twelve members of the European Ryder Cup team took a trip to Marco Simone on Monday and found the rough particularly thick and the rough appears to be similar at Wentworth and was quite gnarly at the K Club last week with an eye towards adapting to potential conditions in Rome at the end of the month.

“You’ll have to ask the captain and Edoardo Molinari about that. I don’t know to be honest. It’s thicker in Rome than it was there today, so yeah, I don’t know. Obviously playing a golf course like this, your game needs to be sharp. It is a great course to play on and such a big tournament.

“Yeah, there’s a bit of Ryder Cup chat between us but it’s enjoyable. We all played pretty nicely. It’s nice to be in the sun around Wentworth in big crowds. Tommy being the hometown hero, it’s so nice. It was a nice treat this morning and look forward to tomorrow.”

Also on three-under-par is Norway’s Viktor Hovland who found the rough thicker than in previous years.

“It was a little bit more difficult compared to other years that I’ve played here. The rough is a little bit thicker and fairways are firm. Greens are a little bit firmer as well. Didn’t help that I struggled a little bit off the tee and I hit some bad shots.

“So I was certainly scrambling, I’d say the first 12 holes, and then after that I started hit more fairways and started hitting the ball better and had a nice finish.”

All twelve players are in the field this week with Hovland alongside Rory McIlroy and Ludvig Aberg and he could feel an extra sense of occasion in the crowd.

“Yeah, it’s really cool to have all 12 guys in the field. Obviously got to play with Ludvig and Rory. That was great fun. Ludvig was certainly on a heater mid-round and the crowd was loving it.

“Hopefully we can make a few more birdies and less mistakes to get the crowds going but just a great atmosphere here.”

Meanwhile from an Irish point of view, McIlroy carded a level-par 72 with a two-putt birdie on the last on a day where he looked out of sorts.

Pádraig Harrington has rarely found Wentworth to his liking and that was evident in his six-over 78 while Tom McKibbin was six-over through ten holes but clawed his way back to two-over with a superb back nine.

Helligkilde (-8) leads by two shots from Matthew Fitzpatrick and Richie Ramsay while Adrian Meronk continues to perform despite his Ryder Cup snub and he is in a large group on five-under-par.

Scoring HERE

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