Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry were pleased with their efforts posting a team score of 10-under par 62 on day one of the QBE Shootout in Naples, Florida.
The all-Ireland duo who are also the only non-Americans in the 24 player/12 team event, birdied five outward holes and five inward holes to end the day five shots behind the duo of Steve Stricker and Sean O’Hair in the Greg Norman hosted event.
“We could have done better but it was a good solid start on a golf course set-up tough, and I thought Shane and I scrambled really well,” said McDowell.
“There was a decent wind to keep us honest and some strong pin positions, so 10-under is an average score but it is not a bad score and has us in touch with Steve (Stricker) and Sean (O’Hair) and over these next two days you can make a big move.”
“We are going to need two solid days and that was one solid day.”
There had been a number of holes, including the ninth, where the Irish duo could have holed out for birdie only for one of their putts to hit the hole and lip-out.
“We both played well,” said Lowry.
“It is a weird format as we out-played Billy (Horschel) and Jason (Dufner) but they beat us by a shot.
“But I was saying to Graeme that the second-round alternate shot format should suit us well and that is the way we are looking at it.”
“Looking back today, we didn’t really hole everything and there was that long putt on nine where Graeme lipped-out.
“My own game was good and I drove the ball well feeling I gave GMac plenty of chances and that is what this format is all about, so I am vey pleased with how both us are playing.”
McDowell and Lowry were met on the first tee of the $US 3.3m event by tournament host Greg Norman, himself a winner of his own event in 1998 when he teamed with fellow Australian Steve Elkington.
Norman had been asked ahead of the event how did the only non-American pairing materialise.
“Well, Graeme wanted to play and then Graeme had a choice of a couple of guys we looked at, and obviously Shane was the guy that got the nod,” said Norman.
“So, it wasn’t anything intentional about non-Americans.”