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Lowry in contention while McIlroy hits dad Gerry with wayward shot at Masters

Justin Rose is in the lead after the opening round at Augusta National.

Shane Lowry in action at Augusta National.
Shane Lowry in action at Augusta National.
Image: Matt Slocum

Updated Apr 9th 2021, 12:00 AM

SHANE LOWRY IS in contention at the 85th Masters after an impressive opening round where he carded a one-under 71.

The Offaly man was within one shot of the lead after picking up two birdies heading into the back nine.

However, a double bogey on the 10th pushed him back to level par. He responded with three consecutive pars and had two more birdies on the 16th and 18th to leave him one one-under for the round, six shots off the leader Justin Rose.

Rose overcame treacherous conditions to card a remarkable 65 and claim a four-shot lead on the opening day of the Masters.

While the majority of the field struggled with greens described as “like glass” by 1991 winner Ian Woosnam and “pretty crispy” by former Open champion Henrik Stenson, Rose overcame a slow start with a sensational burst of scoring at Augusta National.

After playing his first seven holes in two over par, the Olympic gold medallist covered the next 10 in nine under thanks to an eagle on the eighth and birdies on the ninth, 10th, 12th, 13th, 15th, 16th and 17th.

That ensured Rose, who lost out in a play-off to Sergio Garcia in 2017, ended the first round in the lead for the fourth time in his career, matching the tournament record set by six-time champion Jack Nicklaus.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama and Brian Harman were the only other players to break 70 with rounds of 69, and 2018 champion Patrick Reed is part of a four-strong group on two under.

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy inadvertently hit his father Gerry with a wayward shot as he carded a disappointing 76 in tough conditions on day one of the 85th Masters.

McIlroy was already two over par when he pushed his approach to the seventh hole to the right of the green, where it bounced and caught his father on the back of the leg.

The former world number one had at least shouted the traditional warning of “Fore” and Gerry was able to see the funny side, joking with reporters: “I should ask for an autographed glove.”

McIlroy was unable to save par on the seventh and, after carding his first birdie of the day on the par-five eighth, three-putted the next to reach the turn in three over par. He’s currently five over on the 13th.

The 31-year-old needs to win the Masters to complete a career grand slam but has struggled for form recently and has started consulting coach Pete Cowen on a formal basis.

McIlroy’s last major title came in the 2014 US PGA Championship and he is without a win of any description since November 2019.

Defending champion Dustin Johnson, who made just four bogeys in 72 holes in November, carded three in his first 16 and then made a double bogey on the 18th as he returned a 74.

“Two over is not a terrible score today,” Johnson said. “I feel like I am still right in it, just need to shoot a good score tomorrow. I would have liked to have finished a little better but the course was playing tough.”

Johnson’s in-form playing partner Lee Westwood struggled to a 78. Spain’s Jon Rahm, who only arrived in Augusta on Wednesday after his wife Kelley gave birth to their first child at the weekend, carded a level-par 72 after dropping a shot on the last.

Woosnam, who marked the 30th anniversary of his victory with a highly-creditable 76 despite a pulled groin muscle, admitted he was taken aback by the firmness of the greens after not playing a practice round on Wednesday.

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“I didn’t play yesterday, I just did some chipping and putting and hit a few balls and I went on that first green and I thought, ‘What’s happened here?’” the 63-year-old former Ryder Cup captain said.

“It was just like – it looked like glass. If it dries out this afternoon, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them have to put some water on the greens. This is about as fast as I’ve seen it.”

Sandy Lyle’s record 37th consecutive appearance in the Masters had earlier become one to forget for the two-time major winner.

Lyle, who became the first British player to claim a green jacket in 1988, made an excellent start with a birdie on the second, but he bogeyed the next and then took seven on the fourth after thinning a bunker shot over the green.

Further shots went on the fifth and sixth and although he did birdie the eighth, Lyle eventually signed for a nine-over-par 81.

The 63-year-old had shared the record for most consecutive appearances by a non-American with South African Gary Player, the three-time champion who started every tournament from 1974 to 2009. Arnold Palmer holds the overall record of 50 from 1955-2004.


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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