Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA
Abu Dhabi GC, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates 16 Jan 2019 - 19 Jan 2019
Wednesday, 16 January 2019
Shane Lowry  (Getty Images)
Shane Lowry (Getty Images)

Shane Lowry will take a three-shot lead into the second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA after equaling the course record with a sparkling 62 on Wednesday.

Irishman Lowry became the first man to match Henrik Stenson's 13 year old record after firing ten birdies and no bogeys at Abu Dhabi Golf Club early on day one.

Louis Oosthuizen, Richard Sterne and Mike Lorenzo-Vera were in a tie for second after making the most of favourable scoring conditions in the morning, while afternoon starter Pablo Larrazábal was alongside them on seven under par after carding a stunning eagle, six birdies and a solitary bogey in his first round.

Three-time former champion Martin Kaymer, Englishmen Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, Dane Søren Kjeldsen and Swede Alexander Björk were another stroke further back.

Lowry enjoyed a long break over the Christmas period, having not played competitively since the 2018 ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf in November.

And the 31 year old looked refreshed as, starting the first Rolex Series event of the 2019 Race to Dubai season at the tenth tee, he notched five birdies in seven holes from the 12th to reach the turn in 31.

It could have been even better for Lowry, who set up a good eagle chance at the 18th after sending his approach to four feet, but he missed his putt and had to make do with a birdie.

He continued to shine on his back nine, reeling off three straight birdies at the first, second and third before rolling in from 20 feet at the short seventh to get to nine under.

Lowry picked up another shot from around five feet at the eighth to tie Stenson's record before a lovely approach into the ninth green handed him the chance to make history at the final hole.

But his 12-foot birdie putt pulled up just short and he had to settle for a closing par and a round of 62.

Wednesday's round also matched Lowry's career best from the 2009 3 Irish Open, which he won while still an amateur.

Lowry was thrilled with his day's work. He said: "I'm obviously over the moon. It equals the best score I've ever shot. 

"I knew that, as well, and I said it to my caddie coming down the last - 'A birdie here would be the best score I've ever shot', to which obviously he said, 'Well then why don't you just go for it'. 

"I left the putt short but I felt like I hit a decent putt, it was just a bit more into the grain than I felt, and yeah, obviously I'm very chuffed.

"I had quite a lot of time off since the World Cup but put in a decent bit of work the last two weeks over here in Dubai and I've just gone out with not much expectation but knew I was playing OK and yeah, everything clicked."

Oosthuizen has enjoyed a fine start to the 2019 campaign, winning the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg for the first time in December before finishing in a tie for seventh at the Alfred Dunhill Championship the following week.

And he picked up where he left off in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, recovering from a double bogey at the 12th - his third - with birdies at the 15th, 16th and 18th before notching six more birdies on his back nine to sign for a 65.

He said: "It's very important to keep going and play well. A good start to the season is always nice for the rest of the year. 

"You can sort of build on that. So yeah, I'll see if I can put three more good rounds together and then see if I can have a good finish this week."

Larrazábal reached the turn in 32 after making four birdies on the front nine.

He dropped his only shot of the day at the 14th before making amends at the 16th by holing his approach from the left rough for a remarkable eagle.

The Spaniard then followed that up by chipping in from the rough at the 17th for a birdie before picking up another shot at the last.

He said: "Two hole-outs in a row. You don't do that too often. I think I did it like six years ago in Wentworth, I holed three in four holes, three chip-ins in four holes.

"But you know, it's a great way to finish, a nice up-and-down for birdie on the last, and happy days. But there's a lot of golf to be played."

Frenchman Lorenzo-Vera carded eight birdies and a single bogey, while Sterne reeled off seven birdies in his bogey-free first round.

A Rolex Series Event

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1LOWRY, ShaneIRL18-18
2STERNE, RichardRSA18-17
3LUITEN, JoostNED18-15
5KJELDSEN, SørenDEN18-13
T6WARING, PaulENG18-12

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