When Peter Lawrie finished eighth in the Irish Open earlier this month he expressed the hope that his hard work would soon pay off.
Fast forward two and a half weeks and the Dubliner leads the Czech Open by a stroke from close friend Damien Grane thanks to a bogey free, six under par 66 at the redesigned Prosper Golf Resort.
Ranked 64th in the Race to Dubai, Lawrie hit 12 of 14 fairways and took just 25 putts in an immaculate effort on a course where he was edged out for a second European Tour victory following a play-off with Sweden’s Peter Hanson just 12 months ago.
“I had no bogeys, which always helps,” said Lawrie, who is chasing his first win since he broke through in the 2008 Spanish Open. “Plus I made a couple of nice up-and-downs when I really needed them, on the second and third, which were my 11th and 12th holes. Other than that, I played lovely, solid golf, and every chance I gave myself from short range, I holed it – although I missed about a ten footer at the last.”
McGrane holed a 15 footer for birdie at the his final hole for a 67 that will give him hope that he is finally about to move out of the dangerzone in the Race to Dubai where he is rated 104th after 21 outings.
“I birdied the 10th, my first, and had a lot of birdie chances and it was good to finish with a birdie,” he said. “The conditions are perfect so it is possible to create a lot of chances and five under is a good start and I am happy with it.”
McGrane is tied for second with Spain’s Pedro Oriol and France’s Victor Dubuisson with Shane Lowry tied for fourth with Mikael Lundberg after a 68 that featured three birdies and a tap in eagle three at the fifth after changing from the cross-handed putting method for the first time since he was 19.
“I changed my putting a lot because I have been struggling of late. I was level after nine and just managed to hole a few on the back nine, including a couple of good par saves.
“Ever since Wentworth I haven’t done much and that’s purely because I haven’t putted well. It goes through all your game when you are not putting well but today’s only one round. Hopefully I can keep it going.
“This was my first event with my caddie Dermot and I had a 63 in my first round here a couple of years ago. I like the place and the changes are good. The new front nine is a very good test of golf. The other nine was a bit fiddly but it is a proper nine now.”
McGinley, now ranked 585th in the world, went out in 33 with an eagle at the fifth and a birdie at the sixth before signing for a 69 that .
He got to four under with another birdie at the 11th but following a bogey at the 12th with a birdie at the 13th and another bogey at the 15th, he dug deep on the way home to finish with three solid pars.
The veteran Dubliner, 44, will he hoping his putter warms up over the next three days after taking 32 putts in the first round