Lowry on the march at Lahinch as he makes strong Irish Open start

The Offaly golfer is a shot off the early lead under bright blue skies out west.

THE WEIGHT OF expectation appears to be resting easy on Shane Lowry’s shoulders, as the Offaly native made an encouraging start to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open under glorious blue skies at Lahinch.

Lowry, chasing his second win of a career-best season, was among Thursday’s early starters and although dropping a shot on the third, rebounded strongly to card five birdies during his opening round. 

Shane Lowry on the 13th green Lowry putts on the 13th at Lahinch. Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

The 32-year-old signed for a 66 to sit a shot off the early lead on the County Clare links, with Australia’s Wade Ormsby, Mike Vera-Lorenzeo of France, South Korean Hyowon Ark and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen all in the clubhouse on five-under.

Lowry is part of a group of five, alongside two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer, on four-under.

“I don’t think I had my best stuff out there today, but I got it around,” Lowry reflected.

“You know, it’s nice. It’s nice to get off to a good start. There have been a certain few weeks over the last while, I’ve struggled on Thursday. To shoot a good score the first day, hopefully I can kick on from here now.

I was feeling a little bit this morning, I was feeling quite anxious on the putting green before I went out but I was looking forward to getting out there, and obviously it’s beautiful weather here in Lahinch, so it’s nice, yeah.

Defending champion Russell Knox and world number 20 Tommy Fleetwood, playing alongside Lowry, are both well positioned on three-under.

Graeme McDowell endured a disappointing start to his week as he struggled to a two-over 72, while Seamus Power [level], Darren Clarke [level] and Gavin Moynihan [+2] were also among the morning starters.

“A funny day, really, because I really felt like I didn’t play badly,” McDowell, who carded three bogeys and a birdie, said afterwards.

Greame McDowell on the 3rd hole Graeme McDowell. Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

“I kept missing fairways by a yard, you know, in the semi-rough here. It’s just thick enough to take control out of your hands. I got a couple of flyers and then a got a few that didn’t come out at all.

“Consequently, didn’t hit my irons very close which didn’t give me many chances for birdies. It’s not like I’m coming off, thinking, man, I’ve got to go to the range for five hours. I didn’t play badly. Just a case of resetting, sharpen up a couple of things and get back out tomorrow.”

Pádraig Harrington [1.10pm], playing with Tyrell Hatton and Ian Poulter, and Paul Dunne [1.35pm] have just got their first rounds underway.

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