PGA Championship Lowry driving hard in BMW
Shane just shot off the lead at Wentworth
Open champion Shane Lowry is one shot off the lead at the BMW PGA Championship after a strong back nine pushed him into contention at Wentworth.
The Offalyman hit a hat-trick of birdies from the 12th to leave him right in the hunt and although his charge was halted by a bogey on the 15th, he followed that up with birdies on the 16th and 17th, leaving him on five under par.
Lowry came agonisingly close to holing his chip shot on the 18th after flying the green, but was happy to sign for an opening 67 with seven birdies and two bogeys.
“My iron play feels good and I drove it lovely and holed a few putts,” said Lowry, who has missed the cut in three of his last four starts.
“That’s probably the difference between shooting the scores I have been recently and today.”
World number 15 Tyrrell Hatton os in prime position to challenge for victory following an opening 66 at Wentworth.
Hatton carded an eagle, five birdies and a solitary bogey at Wentworth to finish six under par, a total matched late in the day by South Africa’s Justin Harding and Spain’s Adri Arnaus.
As well as Lowry, Eddie Pepperell, Matt Fitzpatrick and Gavin Green were a shot off the lead on five under, with Scottish Open winner Aaron Rai and former world number one Justin Rose part of the group on four under.
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.
“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.”
Early starter Pádraig Harrington sandwiched a chip-in eagle at the sixth between bogeys at his first and 16th holes in a 72 that might have been two or three shots better as Graeme McDowell battled back from three over after three holes to shoot 73.