Lawrie makes all the right impressions

PETER LAWRIE celebrated his father-in-law’s 60th birthday by grabbing a share of second place on the opening day of the Hassan II Trophy in Morocco.

Lawrie was among six players to record six-under par scores and finish a stroke behind England’s Nick Dougherty who carded a seven under par 66 on the Red Course at Dar Es Salam in Rabat yesterday.

Among those tied with Lawrie are Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez, India’s SSP Chowrasia, Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti and Italy’s Francesco Molinari.

The Moroccan format has the 104-players accompanied by amateurs for the opening two rounds on both the Red and par 72 Blue courses at the Dar Es Salam layout before the leading 65-players then play without their amateur partners for the closing two days on the tougher Red Course.

Lawrie invited father-in-law Bernard Hudson to accompany him over the first two rounds as a gift for his recent 60th birthday.

He admitted: “I enjoyed myself out there but it was also the most nervous I’ve been as I have my father-in-law here with me this week so I really had to up my game so that we do okay in the team event.

“We’ve managed to do that so far and I’m doing well in the individual format.”

Hudson is a member at Dublin’s Castleknock Golf Club that Lawrie represents on the Tour, and while he plays off 20 the Morocco tournament has cut him to 18.

Lawrie revealed he had to play the round for the most part using a 3-wood after the head of his regular Callaway driver became loose in playing a shot late on the eve of the €1.3m event.

“I was out on the course on Wednesday evening and the head just came loose from the hosel, It was the worst time for it to happen as all the factory equipment guys had left the course for the week.

“My spare TaylorMade R9 driver is okay but I will need to spend some time getting more familiar with it as I will need it for the Red Course.

“That’s why I only used driver twice as I was just not 100% confident with it and that’s why I need to do some work with it,” he said.

Lawrie had five birdies in his round but capped his effort with an 11th hole eagle after hitting his 3-iron second shot to three feet and holing the putt. Darren Clarke is next best of the six Irish in carding a three under par 69 also on the Blue Course, and in the company of his father, Godfrey.

“My dad was a bit nervous to start off with and unfortunately he didn’t make a par all day, so he’s probably going to go back to the hotel and have a few beers,” said Clarke. “I had seven birdies, so there was a lot of good but also a lot of rubbish. It was alright, though I was hoping for a bit better.”

Paul McGinley ended a five-month layoff with a disappointing 76 but unlike Tiger Woods, who will end a similar exile next month at Augusta National, the triple Ryder Cup winning Irishman has been sidelined after a sixth operation on his troubled right knee.

McGinley was out to a superb start when he birdied the first but he then dropped four shots from his third to ninth holes where he took a double bogey after finding water.

McGinley then hit the flagstick with his third shot at the par five, 12th hole for his only other birdie of the round.

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