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Practice pays off for well-rested Lowry

 

By Phil Casey

Ireland's Shane Lowry reaped the rewards of some concerted practice by equalling the course record with a stunning 62 in the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Lowry, who is seeking a first victory since 2015, carded 10 birdies and no bogeys to finish 10-under par, three shots clear of Spain's Pablo Larrazabal, France's Mike Lorenzo-Vera and the South African pair of Louis Oosthuizen and Richard Sterne.

England's Ian Poulter carded 66 which was matched by three-time winner Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Soren Kjeldsen and Alexander Bjork.

Lowry has not played competitively since finishing 10th alongside Paul Dunne in the World Cup in November, but reaped the rewards of practice.

"I had a lovely break at Christmas," said Lowry, whose 62 equalled the record set by Henrik Stenson in the inaugural edition of the event in 2006.

"I was home for the whole lot of it and I came out here with my family and rented a house in Dubai.

"We've had it since January 3. Myself and Paul Dunne are sharing the house and we're practising together and we've been playing a lot together over at the Els Club in Dubai and we got some great work done.

"I feel good about my game. It's probably the best pre-season I've ever done, and it showed today. I'm just hoping I can keep going.

"I didn't hit as many fairways as I would have liked, but I was hitting everything close and managed to hole a couple of putts as well. It was one of those days where it just felt comfortable."

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