Pádraig Harrington had to settle for a rollercoaster 72 as Shane Lowry’s rivals for a WGC-Accenture Match Play place suffered contrasting fortunes in the opening round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
The Dubliner was three under with eight to play at Spyglass Hill (SH) but dropped three shots coming home to end the day tied for 79th on level par.
He’s six strokes behind co-leaders Russell Knox, who fired a 64 at Monterey Peninsula and Hunter Mahan, who will defend the WGC title in Tucson, following his 66 at Pebble Beach.
Knox and Mahan lead by a stroke from a group of six players that includes three men who could push Lowry out of the Top 64 in the world rankings who will secure automatic places in the first WGC of the year in Tucson on Sunday night.
The good news for Lowry is that Matt Every (66/PB), Seung-Yul Noh (67/SH) and Ted Potter Jnr (67/PB) must all win at Pebble Beach to leave him relying on withdrawals for a place in the field at Dove Mountain the week after next.
Between Pebble Beach and the Joburg Open there are 27 players with a theoretical chance of making the move.
But while Richard Sterne (co-leader) and Danny Willett (T-50) must win in Johannesburg and Kristoffer Broburg (T121) needs a top-two, there are another 24 men in California chasing one of those golden tickets.
All 24 must finish in the top seven and 13 of them need to win to have any chance.
And while Every, Noh and Potter Jnr are in threatening the lead, Kevin Na (T9) needs fourth or better and Luke Gutherie (T9) must finish at least second.
The players nearest Lowry in the world ranking also suffered contrasting fortunes.
World No 69 Geoff Ogilvy and No 71 Brendon de Jonge could have enough with sixth place to make the top 64 but the Australian is tied 95th after a one over 73 at Spyglass Hill while the Zimbabwean is just three off the lead in joint 18th after a 67 at Monterey Peninsula.
Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson, who needs a top-7, is tied 57th but Kevin Na is tied for ninth as he chases a top-4.
Lowry’s rivals - their ranking, what they need to do to make the top 64 and where they are after round 1
- 69 Geoff Ogilvy Aus AT&T 6th or better (T95)
- 71 Brendon de Jonge Zwe AT&T 6th or better (T18)
- 73 Fredrik Jacobson Swe AT&T 7th or better (T57)
- 77 Kevin Na USA, AT&T 4th or better (T9)
- 81 Kristoffer Broberg Swe Joburg Top 2 (T121)
- 83 Danny Willett Eng, Joburg Win (T50)
- 87 Aaron Baddeley Aus, AT& 3rd or better (T18)
- 92 Ryan Palmer USA, AT&T 2nd or better (T115)
- 93 Vijay Singh Fiji, AT&T 2nd or better (T79)
- 94 Richard Sterne Saf, Joburg Win (T1)
- 97 Jimmy Walker USA, AT&T 2nd or better (T35)
- 100 Seung-Yul Noh Kor, AT&T Win (T3)
- 108 Charlie Wi Kor, AT&T Win (T79)
- 112 Chris Kirk USA, AT&T Win (T57)
- 113 Luke Guthrie USA, AT&T 2nd or better (T9)
- 116 Johnson Wagner USA, AT&T Win (T57)
- 118 Tommy Gainey USA, AT&T Win (T57)
- 119 Retief Goosen Saf, AT&T Win (T57)
- 120 Kevin Stadler USA, AT&T Win (T18)
- 121 Casey Wittenberg USA, AT&T Win (T35)
- 122 Josh Teater USA, AT&T Win (T79)
- 126 Matt Every USA AT&T Win (T3)
- 129 Ted Potter Jnr USA, AT&T Win (T3)
- 134 Harris English USA, AT&T Win (T145)
- 146 Charlie Beljan USA, AT&T Win (T18)
- 147 Brian Harman USA, AT&T Win (T35)
- 148 JB Holmes USA, AT&T Win (T79)
In the pro-am section at Pebble Beach, Harrington and JP McManus are tied 94th after a three under 69 with Dermot Desmond and partner Rafael Cabrera Bello tied 51st after a five under 67 with the lead at eleven under.