Lowry laid low in Dubai
Golf:Shane Lowry must look into other ways of qualifying for next April’s US Masters after illness led to him withdrawing today from the last event of the European Tour season. A good week at the World Tour Championship in Dubai could have lifted the 25-year-old into the world top 50 for the first time — and at the end of next month they all earn invitations to Augusta.
“Obviously I’m gutted,” said Lowry, who was put on a drip in hospital yesterday after going down with a virus. “It’s such a big week and a great event, but given the way I feel right now there’s just no way I could have played. I honestly couldn’t even stand up on the tee, never mind play 18 holes.
“I became very sick and dehydrated. The drip helped, but when I came off it and left the hospital I became sick again and haven’t been able to keep rehydrating to keep the recovery going overnight. It’s just so disappointing to miss out on the tournament because I’ve been playing great for the last couple of months.”
He won the Portugal Masters and then came fifth at the BMW Masters in China. “I was looking to end the season on a real high, but such is life.”
Marc Warren threw down the gauntlet in the early stages with a six under par opening round of 66. The 31-year-old, in his first appearance at the European Tour’s season-ending event since it moved to the Middle East in 2009, held an early one-stroke lead over compatriot Stephen Gallacher after a morning of low scoring at the Earth course.
The tournament is limited to the top 60 money-winners on the circuit this year, but only 56 teed off. Thomas Bjorn and Retief Goosen were out injured, Ross Fisher was preparing for next week’s PGA Tour qualifying school in California and Lowry then withdrew after going down with a virus.
Warren birdied three of the first five holes, added another on the 461-yard eighth to turn in 32 and then went to five under on the 12th. He did bogey the short next, but played a brilliant chip shot up a bank to five feet on the long 14th and saved par at the next despite hooking an iron off the tee behind a tree and having to chip out.
His approach there finished only three feet from the flag and he followed that with another birdie at the 486-yard 16th, his second shot finding the slope left of the hole and rolling down to around eight feet.
Gallacher birdied five of the first 10 holes, while joint third on four under were Warren’s Irish playing partner Peter Lawrie and yet another of the Scottish contingent, Scott Jamieson. The field were sent out in reverse money list order, meaning Rory McIlroy — already with the number one spot on both sides of the Atlantic in the bag — was last out with Swede Peter Hanson.
Sergio Garcia, returning after eye surgery to correct an astigmatism following the Ryder Cup, was one over with two to play, while Paul Lawrie began with a double bogey six.