Lowry vaults into con­tention with su­perb 64 at Vil­am­oura

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SPORTS -

Shane Lowry moved him­self right into con­tention at the Por­tu­gal Masters with a su­perb sec­ond round 64 to sit three shots be­hind the leader Nino Ber­ta­sio. Ber­ta­sio leads on 12-un­der-par, one ahead of Lu­cas Bjer­rergard and Marc War­ren.

Lowry – who won this event at Vil­am­oura in 2012 for his first pro­fes­sional ti­tle – is hop­ing that he can take in­spi­ra­tion from the past to turn around what’s been quite a frus­trat­ing sea­son to date. Go­ing into the week­end at nine un­der par he’s given him­self an ex­cel­lent chance of do­ing just that.

“I’m very happy,” Lowry, who has slipped to 86th in the world rank­ings, told Sky Sports. “I felt quite rusty out there yes­ter­day (Thurs­day) af­ter four weeks off. I played my way into the round and then hit some shots when I fin­ished and re­ally hit it well so was look­ing for­ward to get­ting out there and did the busi­ness.

“I think score-wise 64 is my best round of the year. It’s a good time to start play­ing well, I’ve got a lot to play for the rest of the year. “This was my first win as a pro­fes­sional so it was very ex­cit­ing at the time. I can’t be­lieve it was five years ago.”

Reeled off birdies

Af­ter open­ing with a 69 on two un­der, the Of­fa­ly­man got to work early in his sec­ond round. Start­ing on the 10th he reeled off three birdies in four holes from the 12th to the 15th.

An­other run of three in four from the sec­ond to the fifth got him to six un­der for the day and within touch­ing dis­tance of the lead.

A bo­gey at the sev­enth – his 16th – threat­ened to de­rail an ex­cel­lent round but he im­me­di­ately fol­lowed it up with a birdie two at the eighth be­fore fir­ing his ap­proach in to 10 feet and rolling in the putt at the last.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Padraig Har­ring­ton was a shot be­hind Lowry back af­ter a sec­ond straight 67.

War­ren gave his chances of re­tain­ing his Euro­pean Tour card a much-needed boost with a su­perb sec­ond round of 64. War­ren carded five birdies and an ea­gle to fin­ish along­side Bjer­re­gaard.

,Af­ter miss­ing the cut in more than half his events this sea­son, War­ren be­gan the week ranked 173rd in the Race to Dubai, with only the top 100 af­ter the Valder­rama Masters next month keep­ing full play­ing priv­i­leges.

“Con­di­tions were per­fect, I

I think score-wise 64 is my best round of the year. It’s a good time to start play­ing well

drove the ball well and af­ter that it was just about try­ing to be pa­tient,” War­ren said. “The flags were tucked away and the greens were quite firm so I was pleased with that side of my game.”

Ber­ta­sio carded six birdies in a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive 65 and has dropped just one shot so far this week, with Bjer­re­gaard also re­turn­ing a bo­gey-free 65 on an­other day of low scor­ing.

Tiger Woods is not hit­ting full shots and has no timetable for his re­turn to com­pet­i­tive golf af­ter un­der­go­ing his fourth back surgery in April, the for­mer world num­ber one said yes­ter­day. In a wide-rang­ing post on his web­site Woods said he is sleep­ing bet­ter and no longer has nerve pain go­ing down his leg. “My mus­cle tone is com­ing back, but I’m not in golf shape yet. That’s go­ing to take time,” he said.

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