Lawrie grabs Czech lead

A hot putter helped Irishman Peter Lawrie to a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Czech Open in Celadná.

A hot putter helped Peter Lawrie to a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Czech Open in Celadná.

Lawrie credited a new putting technique with his commanding display on the Prosper Golf Resort greens on Thursday, as he produced a bogey-free six-under-par 66 to lead by one stroke over fellow Irishman Damien McGrane, France’s Victor Dubuisson and Spaniard Pedro Oriol.

Runner-up at this event last year, Lawrie is now looking to go one better and secure his second European tour win (his first having come at the Open de Espana over three years ago) and a putting style he first tried out at the Irish Open a month ago, where he finished eighth, appears to be the secret behind his success.

“I played lovely golf,” said the 37-year-old Dubliner.

“No bogeys, which always helps. A couple of nice up-and-downs when I really needed them – on two and three – my 11th and 12th.

“Every chance I gave myself from short range, I holed it, though I missed about a 10-footer at the last.

“But everything went according to plan. I’ve been playing quite steady all year, holing a few nice putts in Ireland.

“I did one or two things different in Ireland with my putting which seemed to work, and it’s working well out here as well.”

Lawrie’s round was steady throughout, but his finish in particular helped him to the first-round lead, as he birdied three of his last five holes – the fifth, sixth and eighth (he started on the back nine).

Fellow Irishman and second-placed McGrane was full of praise for the conditions.

“The scoring conditions are perfect so it’s possible to create a lot of chances,” he said.

“But creating them is one thing, converting them quite another. So to make six birdies and just the one bogey was very pleasing.

“It’s probably going to be a low-scoring week because the greens are in fantastic condition, so I’ll have to keep making those birdies.”

Yet another Irishman Shane Lowry, is tied for fifth with Sweden’s Mikael Lundberg, only two shots off the lead. The highlight of Lowry’s round came at the long par-five fifth, which he managed to eagle.

Lundberg, meanwhile, recovered from a nasty double-bogey six at the third with four birdies on his back nine to finish with a four-under-par 68.

A host of players lie on three under, three shots off the pace, including Scottish trio Gary Orr, Richie Ramsay and David Drysdale, and another Irishman, Paul McGinley.

The top ranked player in the field, Miguel Angel Jimenez, who also happens to be the course’s co-designer, will now struggle to make the cut after a disappointing four-over-par 76.