Lowry just one off pace


IRELAND’S SHANE Lowry, who qualified by winning the Portugal Masters three weeks ago, looked set to be the star of the show again in the first round of the WGC-HSBC Champions at Mission Hills GC in China yesterday when he reached eight under after 16 holes, but he finished disappointingly.

Lowry (25), also fifth last week at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, missed the green at the short 17th and also bogeyed the last after driving into a bunker for a 66.

That dropped Lowry, winner of the Irish Open an an amateur three years ago, into a tie for third with Watson, four-time Major champion Phil Mickelson and last week’s winner Peter Hanson.

“Obviously I’m very disappointed bogeying the last two,” said Lowry. “I felt like I had the ball on a string all day and felt like it came very easy to me today. But six under is a good score out there and I’m looking forward to the next few days.”

A spectacular finish by Australian Adam Scott gave him a share of the lead with South African Louis Oosthuizen. And what the Australian would have given at Lytham in July for the finish he produced yesterday. In danger of being remembered for a long time for bogeying the last four holes of The Open when four strokes clear, the 32-year-old this time played his last three holes at Mission Hills in four-under par.

That gave Scott a seven-under 65 and a share of the first-round lead with South African Louis Oosthuizen – winner of The Open in 2010, but also with some major disappointment this season after losing a play-off for The Masters to Bubba Watson in April.

“It was a solid day that all of a sudden turned into a really good day,” said Scott, who two-putted the long seventh, saw his tee shot to the eighth roll back down a slope to within a foot of the hole and then made a 10-footer for eagle at the 573-yard ninth.

“With five par fives it sets up well for my game and the plan is to just take advantage of them and hopefully hang in there with the leaders all week.”

Having climbed the world rankings again – he is currently sixth – since switching to a long putter Scott was inevitably asked about the possible banning of the club.

A statement is expected from golf’s governing bodies in the next few months and Scott stated: “What’s their criteria for having a look at it? No one’s given me a good reason yet. I’d still be surprised if they could completely outlaw anchoring putting, but you’d have to deal with that if it were to be brought in.”

Oosthuizen has finished fourth and sixth on his last two starts and did not drop a stroke in his 65. “I don’t think I saw a really low number out there,” he said, “but once you look at the leaderboard and see the guys are firing it up, all of a sudden you started seeing birdies. I made five birdies on the par fives and that got the round going. I hit a few bad iron shots, but made good up-and-downs. You need to make putts. I’ve made a few nice ones today and that’s normally the thing I struggle with.”

If Hanson was to triumph again he would go top of the European Tour money list ahead of Rory McIlroy, the player he held off when they went head-to-head last weekend.

Luke Donald, who eagled the third, had a 68, while Ian Poulter, Paul Lawrie and defending champion Martin Kaymer are one further back and Lee Westwood produced three closing birdies for a 70, one better than Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell.


at Mission Hills GC, Olazabal Course

(Irish in bold, British unless stated, par 72)

65 – Adam Scott (Aus), Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa)

66 – Peter Hanson (Swe), Phil Mickelson (USA), Shane Lowry, Bubba Watson (USA)

67 – Dustin Johnson (USA), Prom Meesawat (Tha)

68 – Thomas Aiken (Rsa), Jason Dufner (USA), Ashun Wu (Chn), Martin Kaymer (Ger), Scott Piercy (USA), Luke Donald, Ik-jae Jang (Kor)

69 – Bill Haas (USA), Paul Lawrie, Ian Poulter

70 – Scott Hend (Aus), Garth Mulroy (Rsa), Yuta Ikeda (Jpn), Ernie Els (Rsa), Carl Pettersson (Swe), Thongchai Jaidee (Tha), Lee Westwood

71 – Keegan Bradley (USA), Graeme McDowell, Thorbjorn Olesen (Den), Marcel Siem (Ger), Jamie Donaldson, Greg Chalmers (Aus), Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (Spa), Julien Quesne (Fra)

72 – Nick Watney (USA), Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind), John Senden (Aus), Joost Luiten (Ned), Thaworn Wiratchant (Tha), Wen-Chong Liang (Chn), Alvaro Quiros (Spa), Masanori Kobayashi (Jpn), Justin Rose, Thomas Bjorn (Den), Brandt Snedeker (USA), Bernd Wiesberger (Aut)

73 – Tadahiro Takayama (Jpn), Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel), George Coetzee (Rsa), Hiroyuki Fujita (Jpn), Mark Wilson (USA), Han Lee (USA), Marc Leishman (Aus), Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind), Brad Kennedy (Aus), Marcus Fraser (Aus)

74 – Francesco Molinari (Ita), Toshinori Muto (Jpn), Danny Willett, Brendan Jones (Aus), Jaco Van Zyl (Rsa)

75 – Xin-jun Zhang (Chn), Branden Grace (Rsa), Geoff Ogilvy (Aus), Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spa), Johnson Wagner (USA)

76 – Hennie Otto (Rsa), Robert Garrigus (USA), Robert Allenby (Aus), David Lynn

77 – Siddikur Rahman (Ban), Kenichi Kuboya (Jpn)

78 – Richie Ramsay, Robert Rock, David Lipsky (USA), Hyung-sung Kim (Kor)

79 – Kyle Stanley (USA), Mu Hu (Chn)

83 – Jbe Kruger (Rsa)

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