Shane Lowry suffered a disappointing day on the greens and admitted he now needs to shoot three rounds in the mid-sixties to have any chance of winning the TurkishAirlines Open.
Ranked third in the Race to Dubai behind Bernd Wiesberger and Jon Rahm, the Open champion cut a disconsolate figure as he played some excellent golf from tee to green but lost confidence with the putter.
He had 32 putts in a level-par 72 that left him seven strokes behind England’s Tom Lewis and Austria’s Matthias at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal and with the winning score likely to be around20-under par, he knows he can’t afford any more slip-ups.
It was doubly galling for Lowry to watch his Race to Dubai rival Wiesberger birdie the last for a 71 and defending champion Justin Rose, birdie the last three holes to turn an average round into a 67 as he chases a hat-trick of wins.
“That’s the thing,” Lowry said. “I said it to (caddie) Bo on 17, he had a six-footer and I said, ‘he’s going to hole this and birdie the last to shoot five-under’. We were nip and tuck all day, and he has beaten me by five. The last thing I want is to be fighting in the middle of the pack. Ideally, I’d like to go out there and shoot a decent one tomorrow to give myself a chance of a good week, because the scoring is going to be good, It’s probably going to take 20 under to win this week.”
Lowry’s 72 left him tied for 52nd, just three shots better than Pádraig Harrington, who ran up a quintuple bogey 10 after three visits to water at the fourth.
“I played lovely, I can’t play any better than I did today,” Lowry said. “I literally couldn’t get the ball in the hole from three feet. I barely missed a three-footer all year, and I missed three of them in quick succession here.”
The Offaly man two-putted the first for birdie but missed a three-footer for a two at the par-three second and was never the same on the greens after that. He hit two lovely shots to the par-five fourth but three-putted from the back fringe for par, badly missing another three-footer.
A bogey six at the 13th saw him slip back to level par and while he had chances for birdies inside 15 feet the 16th and 17th, he left both short before trying too hard to pitch close at the 18th, leading to a disappointing two-putt par.
“It kind of shocked me,” he said of his miss at the second.
“From there on I couldn’t get the ball to the hole, I struggled and it even affected my pitch shot on the last. I struggled from the misses early on. I probably had between 34 and 37 putts today.”
Scoring was red-hot on a day of soft greens and windless conditions with 51 players in the 75-man field breaking par.
Lewis made eight birdies in a 65 as Schwab dropped just one shot and mixed an eagle with six birdies alongside Ryder Cup skipper Harrington to grab a share of the lead.
They lead by one shot from David Lipsky, Thomas Pieters and Alex Noren with Harrington 71st in the 75-man field after fighting back from his 10 at the fourth with two closing birdies to card a 75.
The Dubliner drove into the water at the fourth and then came up short twice in the greenside lake with two three-woods before eventually two-putting for his 10.
“These things happen,” said Harrington, who was six over after six holes and dismissed his 75 as a decent effort considering his troubles at the fourth. He chose to play with potential Ryder Cup rookies Schwab (65) and Frenchman Victor Perez (68) and admitted he was impressed.
Asked if he liked putting pressure on the younger players, he grinned and said:
At the Challenge Tour Grand Final in Mallorca,Cormac Sharvin shot atwo-over-par 73 to lie in a tie for 15th place after the first round, five behind the leader Francesco Laporta.
On a tough day for scoring at Club de Golf Alcanada, the Ardglass player finished with two birdies to give him encouragement heading into the second round.
Sharvin currently lies in ninth place on the season-long points race, with the leading 15 players earning European Tour cards at the end of the week.