Shane Lowry off to good start at Centurion

Offaly man shoots a four under par 68 to trail first round Simon Dyson by three strokes

Shane Lowry in action during the first round of the Tshwane Open at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate in Centurion, South Africa. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Shane Lowry in action during the first round of the Tshwane Open at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate in Centurion, South Africa. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images

Thu, Feb 27, 2014, 17:25

Englishman Simon Dyson closed with birdies on his final four holes to card a seven-under-par 65 and take the first-round clubhouse lead in the European Tour’s Tshwane Open.

When play was suspended due to the threat of lightning, South African Trevor Fisher junior was also on seven under after 16 and will complete his final two holes on Friday morning.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry fired a four-under-par 68 to lie three shots off the pace, but tour rookie Kevin Phelan was five under after 14 holes and will resume well placed in the morning.

Conversely, Peter Lawrie was one over through 14.

Lowry, whose clubs did not arrive on the same flight he did, made light of his curtailed practice arrangements to fire six birdies and two bogeys. He was one shot clear of Michael Hoey, who also had an early start to the day.

Damien McGrane (74) and Michael Hoey (75) were two over and three over respectively.

“It’s a lovely start,” said Dyson. “It’s my lowest round in a good few years, especially on the first day. It just puts you in a nice frame of mind, a good stead, and sets it up nicely to have a good weekend.”

There are five players a shot back including four-times European Tour winner Darren Fichardt. South Africans have won 10 of the last 13 European Tour events on home soil and both he and Danie van Tonder will resume on the 18th on Friday.

England’s Ross Fisher, who has not won since 2010, is also on six under.

Dyson says improvement with the putter was key to his first-round success.

“Putting has been the letdown for the last few weeks, but me and my caddie had a chat about what I’m doing wrong. We spent about an hour and a half on the putting green yesterday and I managed to get a good feel for it,” Dyson said.

“I holed a good six-footer for par at the first and then about a 40-footer for birdie at the second and that was it, I was off and running.”

Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate is the longest course in European Tour history. It has four par-five holes, including the monstrous 685-yard fourth.

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