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Shane Lowry stalks leaders at Portugal Masters

Updated: Thursday, 11 Oct 2012 19:49 | Comments

Shane Lowry lies in a share of fourth in Vilamoura
Shane Lowry lies in a share of fourth in Vilamoura

Ireland’s Shane Lowry is just two shots off the lead after the first round of the Portugal Masters.

The 25-year-old carded a four-under-par 67 at Oceanico Victoria.

Lowry’s round included six birdies, while a double bogey on 14 was the only blemish on his card.

Former Ryder Cup star Ross Fisher and Scotland's Stephen Gallacher both matched their lowest rounds of the year to share the lead.

While Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal managed only a 75 on his return to action, the pair shot 65s at Oceanico Victoria.

Fisher was part of Colin Montgomerie's victorious side in Wales two years ago, but has managed only one top-five finish since that memorable week and finds himself down at 140th in the world.

"It's been a tough season," the 31-year-old Englishman said, "but it's nice to see my hard work pay off, and if that Ryder Cup win doesn't inspire you then nothing will.

"It was weird - I was more nervous watching on the sofa than I was playing at Celtic Manor."

The closest he came to winning this year was the Wales Open in June. He was one behind with four to play, but was then given a one-stroke penalty for slow play and dropped to sixth.

Gallacher, meanwhile, was still in contention for the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews on Sunday when he played the wrong ball on the 16th and ran up a quadruple-bogey eight.

Keeping a bogey off his card next time out was a fine effort by the 37-year-old, nephew of ex-Ryder Cup captain Bernard Gallacher.

"There's not much roughs and the greens are unbelievably good, but when the wind got up it was pretty tough," he said.

Olazabal hooked into the lake on the 18th - his ninth - for a triple-bogey seven and was out-scored by playing partners Martin Kaymer and Francesco Molinari, the two members of his team in the field.

Kaymer scored 69, the same as defending champion Tom Lewis, and Molinari 71, the same as his brother Edoardo.

Ireland’s Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley, the two front-runners for Olazabal's job, had differing fortunes.

Clarke finished with an eight-iron into the ninth hole for an eagle two and a 70, but McGinley withdrew before the start with a bad back.

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