Golf

Late birdie hat-trick gives Shane Lowry a solid start in Canadian Open

Martin McGoran and Phil Casey

SHANE Lowry birdied the last three holes of his opening round after 15 pars on day one of the Canadian Open on Thursday.

The Offaly man was frustrated for most of the day but came alive late on with a 4-3-4 finish to post a three-under par round of 69.

Waterford's Seamus Power was among the late starters and had joined his compatriot on three-under after just five holes before weather forced the players off the course

Hudson Swafford claimed the early clubhouse lead with a seven-under 65.

By Phil Casey

In Germany, England's Richard McEvoy tamed a “monster” course to keep his game in top gear by claiming a share of the lead on day one of the Porsche European Open.

McEvoy, who won his first event since 2004 in the SSE Scottish Hydro Challenge at the start of the month, carded six birdies in an opening 66 on the 7,582 yard Green Eagle Golf Course in Hamburg.

That looked set to give the 38-year-old from Essex the outright lead until American Julian Suri birdied four of his last five holes to also finish six-under, a shot ahead of defending champion Alex Levy, former Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, Stuart Manley and Chris Paisley.

“I'm very pleased,” McEvoy said. “At the start of the week (I thought) it's not really my style of golf course to be honest.

“It's wet out there and I'm not the longest of hitters, I'm quite average on tour, but I did everything kind of right today. When I got myself in trouble I got out of it well and I took advantage of the holes where I was hitting wedges in, so a very pleasing start.

“Obviously winning in Scotland was great for me, confidence-wise in particular it was fantastic. I hadn't won for 13 years and nothing beats winning for confidence, so that was a nice thing to do.”

Victory at Aviemore took McEvoy to seventh on the Road to Oman rankings, with the top 15 at the end of the season gaining full playing rights on the European Tour.

McEvoy has been forced to regain his card via the qualifying school in each of the last three seasons and added: “This week could be my last week (on the European Tour) depending on what happens here and I may concentrate the rest of the year on the Challenge Tour.

“If I have a great week here then things might change, but at the moment I'm going to concentrate on the Challenge Tour for the rest of the year being in such a strong position.”

Schwartzel carded an eagle and four birdies in his 67, but it could have been even better for the South African, who twice hit the pin with his second shot on par fives.

“On 18 I hit a fantastic shot and then finishing off today on nine, I hit the flag again with two fairway woods and that doesn't happen very often,” the world number 21 said.

“I felt like early this morning was a bit difficult and when we made the turn the sun came out and balls starting going a little further, which you do need on this golf course. It's a monster.”

Of the four Irish players in the field it was Paul McBride, from the Island Club in Dublin, who is playing as one of three amateur invites, who fared best with a round of 70, picking up strokes at the last two holes to reach two-under par.

The other three all finished over-par, with Paul Dunne two-over (74), Chris Selfridge three-over (75) and Michael Hoey seven-over (79) all needing big second days to make the weekend.

American Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed was part of a nine-strong group on four-under par which included Scotland's Stephen Gallacher and Craig Lee, as well as the English duo of Laurie Canter and Ashley Chesters.

Reigning USPGA champion Jimmy Walker could only manage a

level-par 72.

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