McIlroy and Lowry storm into share of lead with 61

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Luke Donald might have some food for thought at next year’s Ryder Cup after Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry dovetailed brilliantly to fire a 61 and grab a share of the lead at the Zurich Classic.

McIlroy and Lowry are on eleven-under-par with Mark Hubbard and Ryan Brehm, Ben Kohles and Patton Kizzire and Aaron Rai and David Lipsky.

In the betterball format, McIlroy looked close to his imperious best and the pair roared out of the traps with four successive birdies.

Three more followed on 7, 8 and 10 before three in a row from the 12th was topped off with a closing birdie.

“Any day you go out and play the round of golf we did, you’re going to have a good time,” Lowry said ahead of Friday’s foursomes format.

“We enjoyed it. We both played nice golf. We both made some nice birdies and contributed to the team, and I think we’re very happy with the day, and quick turnaround before tomorrow.

“Looking forward to getting out in foursomes tomorrow. Should be fun, as well. It’s a format that’s tougher, but it is an enjoyable format.”

McIlroy was hoping to find some form in a more relaxed environment playing alongside Lowry and he was pleased with the start the pair made.

“You know that you need to get off to a good start, and thankfully we did,” said McIlroy who is making his debut in the event.

“We were four-under through four, which was really nice to see, and from there, you’ve got some momentum, and you’re just trying to keep it going.

“But for the most part today, we kept both balls in play. We were having two looks basically on every hole at birdie, and that’s the way you need to play better ball.

“Everyone thinks it’s maybe a bit more gung ho than that, but as long as you have two balls in play off the tee, two balls on the green, I think you’re always going to do pretty well in this format.”

Lowry and McIlroy are very good friends who practice together in Florida and have played on two Ryder Cup teams together.

The Clara man is enjoying playing alongside the world number two and it seems like both players are enjoying the more relaxed environment.

“I definitely felt today I was less hard on myself than I’ve been in the last few weeks when I hit a couple of bad shots,” he said.

“It’s nice to know you’ve got Rory McIlroy backing you up. But yeah, I definitely feel like there’s a nice vibe out there with the two of us.

“We know each other’s games so well. We’ve played a lot of golf. We play a lot of golf at home together, and we just know each other so well. Yeah, it’s nice being out there.”

DP World Tour duo Thomas Detry and Robert MacIntyre are a shot off the lead in a tie for fifth alongside Davis Thompson and Andrew Novak.

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