McDowell-Grillo co-lead; McGinley chasing; Maguire twins back to school
Graeme McDowell. ©USGA/JD Cuban

Graeme McDowell. ©USGA/JD Cuban

Graeme McDowell teamed up with Argentina's Emiliano Grillo to grab a share of the first round lead with a blistering 59 in the $3.4 million QBE Shootout in Florida.

Runner-up with Shane Lowry in the 54-hole team strokeplay event last year, the Portrush man was pleased to partner the world number 48 and follow an opening eagle with 12 birdies and just one bogey in the scramble format at Tiburón Golf Club in Naples.

"The key to playing well in events like this is just having a great partner," said McDowell, who heads into today's scotch foursomes tied with Patton Kizzire and Brian Harman, and Kevin Na and Bryson DeChambeau. Scores

"He played very well today and I was very average, I've got to be honest. I came in when I was needed a few times, but I've got a little bit of improving to do to keep up with my man this weekend.”

Luke List and Charles Howell III,  Gary Woodland and Charley Hoffman and LPGA star Lexi Thompson and Tony Finau shot 11 under 61’s to share fourth spot.

Scoring was also hot in the MCB Tour Championship – Mauritius where Paul McGinley (51) fired six birdies in a five-under 67 to share second place, four shots behind reigning Staysure Tour number one Clark Dennis.

The Dubliner didn't take advantage of a change in the rules and join the other players wearing shorts in tournament play for the first time at a scorching Constance Belle Mare Plage.

But despite rattling in six birdies, he knows he must get hot again today after Dennis carded a nine-under-par 63 in his first start for three months. Scores

"The key to playing golf on the Staysure Tour is having a fast start," said McGinley, who started on the back nine and raced to the turn in five-under 31 before following a bogey at the first with a birdie at the third. 

"If you shoot 71 or 72 in the first round you’re out of it because the standard is so good – 15 under is the number to go for every week."

Headfort's Brendan McGovern, who is 37th in the money list with only the top 20 after next week's MCB Tour Championship - Seychelles exempt next year, was tied 37th after a 76.

On the European Tour, Charl Schwartzel carded an eight-under 63 to lead the South African Open by a shot from self-taught Zambian Madalitso Muthiya at halfway. Scores

The 2011 Masters champion has claimed eight of his 11 European Tour wins on home soil, and while his national Open has so far eluded him, he's in pole position on 12-under par at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg where Muthiya (35) shot a three-under 68 on the Firethorn Course.

Ireland's three hopefuls all missed the two-under cut with Gavin Moynihan and Neil O'Briain two and three-over respectively after two-under 69's on the Bushwillow Course where Michael Hoey shot 72 to miss out on five-over.

On the Ladies European Tour, Leona Magure lies four shots off the lead after the opening with a two-under 70 in Pre-Qualifying for the Lalla Aicha Tour School in Morocco.

The Slieve Russell star (24) shares 11th place behind Austria’s Nadine Dreher, Sweden’s Linnea Strom and Scotland’s Rachael Taylor, who all fired with six-under-par 66's at Amelkis Golf Club in Marrakesh. Scores

"I'm happy enough," the former world amateur one number one said. "I left a few out there, but there's plenty more golf to be played."

Leona's twin sister Lisa shot a two-over 74 that left her tied 39th with top 38 players and ties after four rounds advancing to the 90-hole Final Stage from December 16-20.