Lowry finds feet in Seoul
Shane Lowry continued to display his fondness for the Blackstone course on day two of the Ballantine’s Championship in Seoul. Lowry was struggling after eight holes in brighter and sunnier conditions compared to day one but then stormed back up the board with a hat-trick of birdies from the 12th hole before eventually posting a two-under-par 70.
It got the Esker Hills star back to level par and seven shots behind Austria’s Berd Weisberger, who posted the best round of the day, a seven-under-par 65, to move to eight under par.
Former Ballantine’s winner Marcus Fraser of Australia carded a 67 to move into second at six under.
Paul McGinley birdied his last hole in a round of 73 to lie in a share of 29th place at level par.
The near certainty for the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy has former Tour player Simon Hurd as his caddy this week.
It was a frustrating day for Damien McGrane, who had 17 straight pars before an 18th-hole birdie in a score of 71 to also lie on level par.
* Harry Diamond is a member of a seven-strong Irish contingent hoping to emulate compatriot Paul Cutler’s 2010 feat of winning the Lytham Trophy at Royal Lytham and St Annes.
The Belvoir Park player makes his debut in the 72-hole tournament, which starts next Friday, in peak form after winning the West of Ireland Amateur Open at Rosses Point last month.
One man who feels he has a score to settle with the toughened-up Lancashire Links is Rathmore’s Alan Dunbar, who missed the cut last year, but that could be an omen because so did Cutler in 2009.
Dunbar, who went on to cement his place in the winning GB&I Walker Cup team, is one of several internationals in a 144-strong field sprinkled with players from Germany, Finland, Norway Sweden, Denmark, Austria, France, Italy, the United States and Hong Kong.
Ireland’s other representatives include 2011 Mullingar Scratch Cup winner Nicholas Grant from Knock.
Lucan’s Richard O’Donovan won the East of Ireland Amateur Open last season when he was also a member of the Home Internationals team.
Ballymena’s Dermot McElroy was a member of the European Boys’ Amateur Team from 2009-11.
Rory McNamara, from Headfort, was a semi-finalist in the West of Ireland Amateur Open this year and in 2010, while Reeve Whitson, from Mourne, played for the European Boys and in the Boys’ Home Internationals 2009.
* Leona Maguire made a stunning start to her bid to regain the Scottish Ladies Open stroke-play title at Troon Portland yesterday.
The 16-year-old Curtis Cup player fired a seven under par 68 to share the first round lead with Cheshire’s Rachael Goodall- and the pair are two strokes clear of Welsh star Amy Boulden and France’s Perrinne Delacour.
Irish scores: 68 L Maguire (Slieve Russell); 72 J Carty (Holywood); 73 L Simpson (Masereene) C Reynolds (Seapoint) 76 C Ryan (Castleroy); 78 A Murphy (Carlow); 79 C Reid (Royal Portrush), E O’Driscoll (Ballybunnion), L Mernagh (Woodenbridge); 80 J O’Driscoll (Muskerry), G O’Leary (Cork), S Cunningham (Ennis); V Bradshaw (Bangor) retiredafter six holes.
© This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Saturday, April 28, 2012