Shane Lowry admitted he was gutted to withdraw with a virus as Padraig Harrington shot 67 and Peter Lawrie opened with a four under 68 in the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Clara native Lowry, 25, who was put on a drip in a Dubai hospital yesterday, was unable to take his place in the elite field at Jumeriah Golf Estates’ Earth course, scuppering his chances of breaking into the world’s top 50 this year and clinching an end-of-year invitation for next April’s Masters Tournament at Augusta.
“Obviously I’m gutted,” said Lowry. “It’s such a big week and a great event, but given the way I feel right now there’s just no way I could have played.
“I honestly couldn’t even stand up on the tee, never mind play 18 holes.
“I became very sick and dehydrated. The drip helped, but when I came off it and left the hospital I became sick again and haven’t been able to keep rehydrating to keep the recovery going overnight.
“It’s just so disappointing to miss out on the tournament because I’ve been playing great for the last couple of months.”
The world No 57, who was just €3,460 short of breaking the €1m mark for tournament earnings this season, could have earned €19,371 for turning up to hit his opening tee shot.
He won the Portugal Masters and then came fifth at the BMW Masters in China.
“I was looking to end the season on a real high, but such is life.”
But in the end he was forced to pull out and will have to reflect on his first tour win as a professional in Portugal last month and his rapid rise to the cusp of the game’s elite.
Early starter Lawrie, meanwhile, continued where he left off in Hong Kong last week when he stormed to within two shots of playing partner Marc Warren with a four under 68.
But he was soon passed by Harrington, who followed a birdie at the second and a bogey at the third with birdies at the eighth, 10th and 13th, 16th and 17th to get to within a shot of Warren at five under playing the par-five 18th.
The 38-year old Dubliner, who only secured his place in the €6.2m finale thanks to a fourth place finish in Hong Kong last Sunday, started with a bogey at the first. But he birdied the second, third, sixth and seventh and bogeyed the ninth to turn in 34.
Birdies at the 10th and 11th got him to four under and while he dropped a shot at the par three 13th, he birdied the 17th to share third place with Scott Jamieson (68).
Michael Hoey posted a two under 70 as he birdied the first, third and fifth and followed a double at the 10th, with a birdie at the 15th.
Graeme McDowell and European No 1 Rory McIlroy were among the afternoon starters.
McDowell bogeyed the first but birdied second and fourth to get into the red while McIlroy was one under through three holes after a birdie at the par-five second.