The reigning Irish Open champion, who moved up to 90th in the world thanks to his fourth place finish in last week’s Abu Dhabi Championship, birdied the par five 18th in testing conditions to finish the day tied for 15th place with Ulsterman Gareth Maybin.
England’s Oliver Wilson, still seeking his maiden professional win, carded a five under par 67 to share a one shot first round lead with Welshman Bradley Dredge on a day when just 24 players broke par.
“I’m obviously really pleased, but it was a strange one because it didn’t feel that hard. I got in and realised it had been playing tough, but I was disappointed I didn’t pick up more shots coming in. I had some good chances, but all in all, I’m happy,” said Wilson, who missed the cut in Abu Dhabi last week.
“My putting was better. I holed a few putts and overall, everything was good. I drove it well and hit my irons really good.”
Reigning European No 1 Lee Westwood bounced back from his missed cut in Abu Dhabi with a four under par 68 leaving him tied for third place with Germany’s Marcel Siem and the Swedish pair, Robert Karlsson and Alexander Noren.
Like Lowry, Maybin made two birdies and just one bogey in his 71 with Dubliner Peter Lawrie well place on level par after mixing two birdies and two bogeys in his 72.
Graeme McDowell continued his slow start to the year with a one over par 73 while his former Walker Cup partner Michael Hoey had to settle for a two over 74, the same mark as Abu Dhabi winner Martin Kaymer and US star Kenny Perry.
Kells’ Damien McGrane began with back to back birdies but signed for a frustrating, three over par 75 that left him alongside the likes of Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Chris Wood in joint 67th.