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Shane Lowry makes strong start at Wentworth as Leona Maguire leads Irish challenge at Women's PGA Championship

 

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Looking good: Shane Lowry is one shot off the lead after the opening round

Looking good: Shane Lowry is one shot off the lead after the opening round

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Looking good: Shane Lowry is one shot off the lead after the opening round

Offaly's Shane Lowry carded a brilliant five-under-par 67 in his opening round of the BMW PGA Championship to lie one shot off the early lead at Wentworth.

The Open champion certainly made the most of his late entry to the event by shooting five birdies in his last seven holes to put himself in a tie for third, a stroke back of first round leaders Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Harding and Adri Arnaus, who all signed for 66s.

Harding and Arnaus were flawless, both recording six birdies and no bogeys, while Hatton had an eagle and five birdies, but one dropped shot, on his way to his six-under-par round.

Graeme McDowell, meanwhile, had four birdies but could not keep the bogeys off the card, dropping five shots on his way to a one-over 73 in his first round, while European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington, playing his third consecutive event, recorded a level-par 72 to open.

At the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Club, Slieve Russell's Leona Maguire opened with a three-over 73 to sit five shots off the early leaders, Gaby Lopez, Carlota Ciganda and Linnea Strom.

Stephanie Meadow (Galgorm Castle) faces a fight to make the cut after carding an eight over par 78 to sit in a tie for 120th.

Elsewhere, Newcastle's Simon Thornton will enter the final round of the PGA Professional Championship right in contention in Stoke-on-Trent.

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Thornton fired a five-under 67 in his third round at Trentham Golf Club to reach 11-under, which is just two strokes back of joint leaders Matthew Ford and Paul Hendriksen of England.

Northern Ireland's Cameron Clark shot a 71 on day three and is one-over-par for the week.

Meanwhile, the final event on the Bridgestone Order of Merit gets under way today, with Rosapenna playing host to the AIG Irish Amateur Close Championship over the next three days.

While no Ulster players can win the Order of Merit, there are still 12 local men heading down to the 54-hole event to try and finish their season strongly, headed by Malone's Matthew McClean and Galgorm Castle's Joshua Hill.

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