Shane Lowry frees putter from the cupboard and opens with 67 at Wentworth
Irish star just one shot off the lead at the BMW PGA Championship
Ireland’s Shane Lowry plays his second shot on the 13th hole during day one of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club in Virginia Water, England. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
Shane Lowry put his recent poor run behind him to shoot a five-under-par 67 in the first round of the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth to sit one shot off the leaders.
The British Open champion had missed the cut in three of his last four starts, but reverting to an old putter paid dividends with a round of seven birdies and two bogeys.
“I whipped that putter out of the cupboard on Monday. I’ve used it for about six or seven years and it’s been on the bench for a while,” said Lowry.
“It’s only one good day, I need to get a bit more consistent with every part of my game and keep going. My days have been too bad of late, I’ve had a few good days but shooting a few 74s or 75s and that’s just not good enough.”
Coming off his top-10 finish at the Scottish Open, Pádraig Harrington carded a level-par 72 that included an eagle three at the par-five 12th, while Graeme McDowell carded four birdies and five bogeys in a one-over 73.
England’s Tyrrell Hatton set the early mark after posting a six-under 66, a total matched late in the day by South Africa’s Justin Harding and Spain’s Adri Arnaus
Hatton’s first memory of watching the BMW PGA Championship as an awestruck nine-year-old was almost getting hit by a stray shot from three-time Major winner Vijay Singh.
Nineteen years on, Hatton is on the other side of the ropes as the world number 15 and in prime position to challenge for victory in the event which inspired him to become a professional. He carded an eagle, five birdies and a solitary bogey in his round.
Despite needing on-course treatment for back spasms, Ian Poulter finished birdie, birdie, eagle to return a 69, with former Masters champion Patrick Reed having to settle for an opening 70 after a double bogey on his final hole.
Hatton grew up not far from Wentworth and often came to one of the European Tour’s flagship events as a spectator, while he went into the final round in 2016 a shot off the lead before finishing seventh.
“My dad used to bring me up here, it was one of my favourite things to do when I was a kid so that’s what makes this week so special,” Hatton said.
“One memory that springs to mind is Vijay almost taking me out on 18 when he blocked it right and thankfully he just missed us and we’re able to stand here today!
“To lift the trophy here is definitely a goal of mine and hopefully I can play well the next few days and give myself the chance to do that. That would be very special.
“In 2016 I had a really good chance here but I had not won on Tour at that point and I think that was quite a big learning curve for me that day. I would like to think that if I had that opportunity again, I’d give myself a better chance of winning.”
Hatton, who won his fourth European Tour title in a six-man, floodlit playoff in the Turkish Airlines Open last November, underwent wrist surgery at the end of the season and started 2020 in superb style with a first PGA Tour title in the Arnold Palmer Invitational.
“I’m pleased with how this year has been so far on the golf course,” the 28-year-old added. “I feel like I’ve put in quite a lot of work off it as well, starting to go to the gym and stuff like that.
“The gym wasn’t anything to help my golf to be honest. It was just for my own benefit. I was always quite a self-conscious person anyway, and I didn’t like how I looked.
“I think playing pain-free is an added bonus, and I definitely struggled with that for the previous two and a half years.”
Rai finished runner-up in the Irish Open a fortnight ago and followed that with victory in the ASI Scottish Open on Sunday, defeating Tommy Fleetwood in a play-off.
Fleetwood looked to be feeling the effects of his shock miss from three feet on the first extra hole when he struggled to the turn in four over par, but birdied five of his last seven holes to return a 71.
British and Irish unless stated, par 72
66 Adri Arnaus (Esp), Justin Harding (Rsa), Tyrrell Hatton
67 Shane Lowry, Eddie Pepperell, Gavin Green (Mal), Matthew Fitzpatrick
68 Andrew Johnston, Joachim B. Hansen (Den), Scott Hend (Aus), Justin Rose, Ryan Fox (Nzl), Wade Ormsby (Aus), Aaron Rai, Matthias Schwab (Aut)
69 Matt Wallace, Joakim Lagergren (Swe), Grant Forrest, Robert Rock, Ian Poulter, Victor Perez (Fra), Garrick Higgo (Rsa), Benjamin Hebert (Fra)
70 David Horsey, Matthew Southgate, James Morrison, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut), Rasmus Hojgaard (Den), Masahiro Kawamura (Jpn), Patrick Reed (USA), Lee Westwood
71 Richie Ramsay, Kalle Samooja (Fin), Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Kristoffer Broberg (Swe), Danny Willett, Romain Langasque (Fra), Alvaro Quiros (Esp), Tapio Pulkkanen (Fin), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha), Andy Sullivan, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Tommy Fleetwood, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry), Michael Bullen, Min Woo Lee (Aus)
72 Marcus Kinhult (Swe), David Law, Maximilian Kieffer (Ger), Ross Fisher, Oliver Wilson, Joost Luiten (Ned), Oliver Fisher, Jason Scrivener (Aus), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa), Sami Valimaki (Fin), Thomas Detry (Bel), Sean Crocker (USA), David Howell, Julien Guerrier (Fra), Chris Paisley, Victor Dubuisson (Fra), Stephen Gallacher, Jeunghun Wang (Kor), Jordan Smith, Alexander Levy (Fra), Pádraig Harrington, Thomas Pieters (Bel)
73 Soren Kjeldsen (Den), Mikko Korhonen (Fin), Martin Kaymer (Ger), Pablo Larrazabal (Esp), Renato Paratore (Ita), Jazz Janewattananond (Tha), Dean Burmester (Rsa), Sebastian Soderberg (Swe), Robert Macintyre, Edoardo Molinari (Ita), Graeme McDowell, Paul Waring, Guido Migliozzi (Ita), Callum Shinkwin, Ashley Chesters, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind), Miguel Angel Jimenez (Esp), Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind)
74 Kurt Kitayama (USA), David Drysdale, Sam Horsfield, Marc Warren, George Coetzee (Rsa), John Catlin (USA), Nacho Elvira (Esp)
75 Lucas Bjerregaard (Den), Steven Brown, Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Adrian Otaegui (Esp), Nino Bertasio (Ita), Scott Jamieson
76 Joel Stalter (Fra), Brandon Stone (Rsa), Branden Grace (Rsa), Jorge Campillo (Esp), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa), Lorenzo Gagli (Ita)
77 Lucas Herbert (Aus), Julian Suri (USA), Alexander Bjork (Swe), Richard McEvoy, Justin Walters (Rsa)
78 Jeff Winther (Den)
79 Ashun Wu (Chn)
80 Andrea Pavan (Ita), Haydn Porteous (Rsa), Thomas Bjorn (Den)
82 Haotong Li (Chn)