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putt it right Slow start for Shane Lowry as Padraig Harrington struggles at Irish Open in Mount Juliet


Shane Lowry and Martin Kaymer at Mount Juliet

Shane Lowry and Martin Kaymer at Mount Juliet

Shane Lowry and Martin Kaymer at Mount Juliet

Shane Lowry will need a low round tomorrow to get back into the hunt after he opened with a two-under 70 on a low scoring morning in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at a sun-splashed Mount Juliet.

The Open champion made four birdies and two bogeys to share 36th in the clubhouse, leaving him six shots adrift of the early leader, Australian Lucas Herbert.

The 25-year-old former Dubai Desert Classic winner fired nine birdies in an eight-under par 64 to lead by two strokes from Scotland’s Grant Forrest and by three strokes from a six-strong chasing bunch that includes Ryder Cup vice-captain Martin Kaymer.

The German made seven birdies in a five-under 67 alongside Lowry and Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell, who like Ryder Cup skipper Pádraig Harrington, struggled to a four-over 76.

“It is what it is,” said Lowry, who played the par-fives in just level par, losing a ball off the tee at the par-five fifth before missing from seven feet for par.

“I will move on now and try and shoot a low score tomorrow and get myself into contention for the weekend.

“I lost that ball on the fifth. We were waiting on the tee and having the chat and I lost concentration which I was really disappointed with, because I don’t like doing that and giving away shots. I will move on and try and shoot as low as I can the next three days.”

Harrington was well off the pace with a 76 as he struggled with several parts of his game and putted poorly, running up seven bogeys against just three birdies in ideal, windless conditions at the Jack Nicklaus designed Thomastown venue in Co Kilkenny.

“Didn't go the way I wanted it,” Harrington said. “Hit lots of pure shots. Hit a few bad shots as well. Struggled a bit on the greens. Yeah, it was not what I expected. I was nearly reining it in Tuesday and Wednesday. Sometimes you have high expectations, can backfire a bit.”

Herbert was delighted to birdie five of his last seven holes for a 64 which left him two ahead of Forrest and three clear of Kaymer, Belgian duo Thomas Detry and Nicolas Colsaerts, England’s Andy Sullivan, Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen and Spain’s Adri Arnaus.

“Yeah it was a bit of a slow start,” said Herbert, who was playing in a two-ball with Laurie Canter. “Even the first eight holes felt a little bit slow out there, only hitting the two-ball with Laurie, and we just both felt like we are hitting it quite nice and couldn't make any putts.

“I made a really long one on 18 for birdie and that kind of sparked things and got things going. Was able to play really nice that last nine holes.”

Enjoying the firm and fast conditions, he added: “It's always fun when you come out and play some firm, fast golf courses.

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“Coming from America, the rough is not as thick as probably been used to but it definitely up enough to make you interested out there.”

Recent Scandinavian Mixed champion Caldwell visited water twice and triple bogeyed the 18th to turn in three-over, then followed a birdie from 40 feet at the second with a double bogey five after another visit to water at the short third.

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