By ALISTAIR TAIT
LYTHAM ST ANNES, England – Ireland’s Shane Lowry will do his chances of playing on this year’s Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team the world of good if he has three more rounds like the one he had in the opening session of the Lytham Trophy.
Lowry returned a 4-under 66 and holds a two-shot lead over Dale Whitnell; England’s Darren Wright is another shot back. Former Augusta State player Wallace Booth is one of three players tied for fourth after an even-par 70.
The 22-year-old Lowry compiled his score by managing to avoid the notorious Lytham bunkers. The Open Championship course is the most heavily bunkered of the courses on the Open Championship rota, with 203 bunkers.
“I've never done that before on a course like this where there are so many of them,” Lowry said. “That was the key to my score but I also struck the ball well and tried not to take any risks.”
The Irishman teed off at 7:40 am in the second group out and benefited from the best of the weather. Rain hampered competitors later in the day, but the Irishman played in dry weather.
Out in level-par 34, Lowry had an adventurous back nine. He only posted one par on the inward half, recording a 4 at the difficult 15th. He also threw in six birdies and two bogeys to come home in 4-under 32.
Lowry saved the best until last, hitting his gap wedge approach to just three inches at the 18th for a tap-in 3.
No Irishman has won the Lytham Trophy since Martin Sludds in 1982. The long-hitting Lowry would be a worthy successor. Victory would also put him to the forefront of the GB&I Walker Cup reckoning.