Golf

Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell well off the pace at Honda Classic

Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke were both down the field in their respective events in Palm Beach and Johannesburg

GRAEME McDowell and 2015 winner Padraig Harrington endured a difficult opening day at the Honda Classic in Florida.

They limped to two-over-par rounds of 72 to lie eight shots off the early pace, which was set by Americans Cody Gribble and Wesley Bryan.

Portrush’s McDowell started well, getting to two-under after 10 holes but four dropped shots in the next four holes dropped him back to two-over alongside three-time Major winner Harrington, who was three-over after two before rallying to sign for his 72.

Seamus Power fared better than his compatriots, the Waterford native signing for a two-under par 68

Gribble, who won the Sanderson Farms Championship last October, had seven birdies and just one dropped shot in his round of 64, while Bryan, who was fourth at the Genesis Open on Sunday, flew to the turn in five-under before putting together a solid back nine.

Germany's Martin Kaymer was best of the afternoon starters with a 65 to lie one off the lead, while the seven players in the group two back included Ian Poulter and Rickie Fowler.

In Johannesburg, English duo Aaron Rai and Paul Waring carded matching rounds of 65 before bad weather forced play to be suspended in the first round of the Joburg Open.

Playing just the third European Tour event of his career, Rai fired seven birdies in a flawless round on the East Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington, with Waring recording nine birdies and two bogeys.

That left the pair two shots behind clubhouse leader Paul Peterson, the left-handed American completing a brilliant 62 on the West Course before heavy rain, on an already-saturated course, forced play to be abandoned for the day.

Paul Dunne was two-under after 15 holes on the East Course when the weather intervened with Darren Clarke back at two-over after 14, havinf dropped three shots in the final two holes before the suspension of play for the day

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