Slow starts for the home favourites as Paul Lawrie and Patrik Sjoland share the lead at Seapoint

Mark McGowan

Gary Murphy - Image by Phil Inglis

Mark McGowan

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It wasn’t the start that any of the four Irish contenders were hoping for on day one of the OFX Irish Legends at Seapoint Golf Links in County Louth.

Best of the quartet are Gary Murphy and David Higgins who shot rounds of 73 to sit on one over. Murphy, who had the honour of hitting the opening tee shot, made two bogeys on his outward nine and reached the turn at +2. His back nine was bookended with birdies on the par-5 10th and 18th holes, but a bogey in between meant he signed for a one-over 73.

Higgins, who tried his hand at Legends Tour Q-School back in January, looked poised for a round in red figures after cancelling out his two early bogeys with birdies on four, eight and 14. A double bogey to finish would leave a sour taste in his mouth, however, and he ends the day tied with Murphy and a dozen others in 27th place.

Peter Lawrie, making his second Legends Tour start after an eight-year hiatus from competitive golf prior, found the going tough and struggled to a four-over 76, one shot better than Philip Walton who failed to register a single bogey.

Despite the disappointing score, Lawrie continues to look on the bright side.

“It was very poor to be honest,” Lawrie said of the score, “it didn’t really reflect the way I played, but when you’re out of match practice, you drop shots in stupid places and you don’t pick up shots when you should be picking them up. But I’m learning as each round goes on – I’m still making the same mistakes I made eight/ten years ago, but it’s a constant learning process.

“But it’s a privilege to be honest. I never thought I’d be back with the way my eyes were – or eye in particular – so as I keep on saying to people, this is the ice-cream after a lovely meal. I’ve had a good, decent career and this is the ice cream on it. I’m very fortunate and we’ll see how it goes.

“I never said I’d come out of the blocks early. I knew it would take me a few tournaments so I just have to be patient.”

It’s the other Lawrie that leads, as 1999 Open Championship winner Paul carded seven birdies and two bogeys to post five-under to sit alongside playing partner Patrik Sjoland of Sweden.

“I played nicely and had a lot of really good shots,” said the Scot. “I left a few out there, to be honest, but it’s still a good score. It’s tricky whenever you’re playing links golf and there’s a little bit of wind and the ground is firm, it’s tough to get the ball exactly pin high.

“It was quite an easy, straightforward day to be honest.”

One shot back is former Masters and U.S. Open winner Angel Cabrera, who returned to winning ways after incarceration when he came out on top at the Paul Lawrie Matchplay last week. El Pato, as he is affectionately known in his native Argentina, sits alongside South African Keith Horne at -4, with defending champion Peter Baker among the quartet tied for fourth at -3.


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