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The Barclays: Frustrated Rory McIlroy needs to hit hot streak with new putter

By Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy switched putters and started his FedEx Cup play-off account with a frustrating level par round of 71 at the Barclays in New York.

The Holywood ace is sitting five shots off the lead, held by USA's Patrick Reed and Scotland's Martin Laird.

After shooting a round that included three birdies and three bogeys, the world number five knows he could have performed better on the tricky Black Course at Bethpage.

McIlroy is by no means out of contention with plenty of time to make up ground going into the weekend.

Fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell is on one over par after his opening round.

McIlroy unveiled a new putter at The Barclays, the first of four FedExCup events to conclude the PGA Tour season.

McIlroy has switched his Nike Method Origin putter for a Scotty Cameron M1 prototype. However, the new broom didn't exactly sweep clean as 17 putts and two bogeys on his front nine left him adrift of clubhouse leaders Reed and Laird, who both shot five-under-par 66s.

Meanwhile, Tom Lewis threatened to shoot the first round of 59 - or better - in European Tour history on the first day of the Made in Denmark tournament.

The Englishman reached 12 under after 13 holes at the Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort in Farso but three late bogeys denied him the chance of making history.

He had to settle for a course record-equalling 62 - nine under par - and a share of the lead with Thomas Pieters and Joakim Lagergren.

Welshman Bradley Dredge was a shot further back, with David Lipsky of the USA, South African Jake Roos and Scotland's Scott Jamieson on six under.

Lewis, who lost his tour card last season, was in blistering form from the outset. Starting on the 10th, he birdied his first four holes and picked up three more to turn in 28.

Three more birdies followed in succession and then when he rolled in a 45-foot putt for eagle at the fourth, records were in reach.

But bogeys on the fifth, eighth and ninth cost him and he was left to rue missed opportunities.

Lewis said: "How many people can get disappointed with nine under?

"It's a tough one but everyone call tell it was on there. It was a good round today but a disappointing one.

"Unfortunately it just caught up with me a little bit. I hit some good putts, I hit some bad putts. Maybe I thought too much, or tried too hard, hence the finish."

Pieters, playing alongside Europe's Ryder Cup captain, Ulsterman Darren Clarke who shot a five over 76, seized the opportunity to impress ahead of next week's wild-card selection announcement.

The Belgian posted 10 birdies and just one bogey to continue his strong recent form following his fourth place at the Olympics and runner-up finish at last week's D+D Real Czech Masters.

Pieters said: "I did all I could in front of Darren today. He has a lot on his mind other than golf and we will just have to wait and see. It's up to Darren."

Lagergren posted his 62 early in the day, equalling the course record set by fellow Swede Kristoffer Broberg in the final round 12 months ago.

Shane Lowry's hopes of being handed a captain's pick for Europe's Ryder Cup team faded further as he hit an opening 75.

Lowry opted to miss this week's opening Play-Offs event on the PGA Tour in an effort to impress Clarke.

However, the Offaly man's 75 left him 13 shots off the pace in Farso.

Lowry is sharing 131st spot as his poor form since wasting a chance to win the US Open in June continued.

After starting on the 10th, the Irishman carded four bogeys in five holes and his only birdie of the round came at the third.

Even victory in Denmark would not be enough to earn Lowry an automatic spot in Clarke's team, with the top nine qualifiers already now decided.

Clarke is being tipped to hand wild cards to Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer with Russell Knox and Thomas Pieters also among the candidates.

Belfast Telegraph


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