Shane Lowry brilliantly upstaged some of the game’s best to brilliantly equal the course record and also match a career low with a 62 on day one of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Lowry, competing in the event for a first time in five years, matched the National Club course record set in 2006 by Swede Henrik Stenson and the Offlay golfer’s effort of 10 birdies is also his equal-lowest ever European Tour in 214 Tour counting events.
“I’m obviously over the moon as this round equals the best score I’ve ever shot,” said Lowry.
“I knew that, as well, and I said it to my caddie coming down the last. A birdie here would be the best score I’ve ever shot, he said, well, then why don’t you just go for it. I mean, look, I left the putt short, but I felt like I hit a decent putt, it was just a bit more into the grain than I felt, and yeah, obviously I’m very chuffed.”
“I had quite a lot of time off since the World Cup but put in a decent bit of work the last two weeks over here in Dubai and I’ve just gone out with not much expectation but knew I was playing OK and yeah, everything clicked.”
And it could have easily been a 61 for Lowry, who set up a good eagle chance at the 18th, or the ninth hole of his round, after sending his approach to four feet, but he missed his putt and had to make do with a birdie.
He continued to shine on his back nine, reeling off three straight birdies at the first, second and third before rolling in from 20 feet at the short seventh to get to nine under.
Lowry picked up another shot from around five feet at the eighth to tie Stenson’s record before a lovely approach into the ninth green handed him the chance to make history at the final hole.
But his 12-foot birdie putt pulled up just short and he had to settle for a closing par and a round of 62.
“Normally I start at the Farmers at Torrey Pines, which is in a couple of weeks or next week maybe, but I lost my card over there last year, so obviously I’m very lucky that I have my card here in Europe, as well,” he said.
“I get to come back and play in huge tournaments here, and to start the year with a Rolex Series event here in Abu Dhabi, it’s great to be here, and I’m very happy to be here, and I’m playing decent golf, so hopefully I can get going now and see if I can have a decent result.”
Three shots back at nine-under par is the trio of Louis Oosthuizen, Richard Sterne and Mike Lorenzo-Vera.
Greystones Paul Dunne, the only other Irishman in the field, struggled with a 73 that included three birdies but also a fifth hole triple-bogey ‘7’.