Competing at the Prosper Golf Resort in Celadna, Lawrie did not drop a shot en route to carding a six-under-par round of 66.
Last year’s runner-up is now on course to go one better following a change to his putting style he first attempted in the Irish Open last month when he finished eighth.
“I played lovely golf,” said the 37-year-old Dubliner, whose only European Tour win was in the Open de Espana just over three years ago.
“No bogeys, which always helps. A couple of nice up-and-downs when I really needed them – on two and three – my 11th and 12th.
“Every chance I gave myself from short range, I holed it, though I missed about a 10-footer at the last. But everything went according to plan. I’ve been playing quite steady all year, holing a few nice putts in Ireland.
“I did one or two things different in Ireland with my putting which seemed to work, and it’s working well out here as well.”
Starting at the 10th, Lawrie conjured birdies in three of the last five — the fifth, sixth and eighth on the course – to propel him into the lead.
He is followed on five under by fellow Irishman Damien McGrane, Frenchman Victor Dubuisson, in only his second year as a pro on the European tour, and Spain’s Pedro Oriol.
McGrane, who dropped only one shot in his round, said: “The scoring conditions are perfect so it’s possible to create a lot of chances. But creating them is one thing, converting them quite another. So to make six birdies and just the one bogey was very pleasing. It’s probably going to be a low-scoring week because the greens are in fantastic condition, so I’ll have to keep making those birdies.”
Another Irishman in Shane Lowry stood at four under, with the highlight of his round being an eagle at the 576-yard, par-five fifth.
Lowry was joined by Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg, who chalked up four birdies on the back nine to help make amends for a double-bogey six at the third.
At one stage another Swede in Fredrik Ohlsson was poised to be amongst the leaders when he made six birdies in seven holes, only to drop four shots in two holes late on and finish on one under.
Scottish trio Gary Orr, Richie Ramsay and David Drysdale, along with another Irishman, Paul McGinley, among a big group on three under.
The leading player in the field and course co-designer, Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, was facing a fight to make the cut after a four-over-par round of 76.
- PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON’S erratic season continued last night when he shot a one under par 69 in the opening round of the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club, Grenesboro, North Carolina.
The Irishman went out in two over par 37 after bogeys at the 3rd and 4th holes but rallied on the way home, shooting birdies on the 11th, 13th and 15th, for an inward half of 32.
Harrington trails clubhouse leaders Jeff Quinney and Tommy Gainey by six shots. Quinney shot eight birdies and the only blemish on his round of 63 was a bogey five on the 18th.
Australian Stuart Appleby lies on six under, with England’s Paul Casey, Swede Carl Patterson, South African Ernie Els and Vijay Singh of Fiji among a group on 65.
- CASTLE’S Peter McKeever continued his good form at the Irish Boys Close Championship in Ardee, holding his nerve to shoot a second round 71 to follow up his opening 68.
McKeever was two under for his first 10 holes but was rocked by a triple-bogey seven at the par-four 11th. However, he played the last six holes in one under, picking up a shot at the long 14th, to finish his round in solid form.
McKeever leads by a shot from holder Dermot McElroy, who for the second day in a row found trouble at the long 14th, carding a nine in an otherwise impressive round of 73.
He is tied with Cairndhu’s Ryan McKinstry on two under, two shots ahead of Skibbereen’s Kieran Lynch and Rosslare’s Ross Young.
The turnaround of the day came from Elm Park’s Keegan Cummings, who produced a remarkable four-under 67.
The cut fell at 153, with only one score on that number making it into the final day’s play.
- Ulster claimed their seventh consecutive Girls Interprovincial trophy yesterday. The Northern side of Jessica Boal (Larne), Jessica Carty (Holywood), Victoria Craig (Clandeboye), Hannah Henderson (Ballyclare), Niamh McSherry (Lurgan), Olivia Mehaffey (Royal Co Down Ladies), Jessica Ross (Clandeboye), Niamh Ward (Lurgan) defeated Munster 6-2 at Cahir Park to top the table on three points and were followed home by Leinster, Munster and Connacht.