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Published: 09:43 | 26/2/16

Lowry in contention at Honda

Ireland's Shane Lowry is just two strokes off the lead held by Sergio Garcia and Michael Thompson following the opening round of The Honda Classic.

Following a steady start, Lowry produced three successive birdies from the fourth to climb the leaderboard, but he dropped shots at the seventh and eighth to reach the turn in one-under.

He dropped back to level par with a third bogey at the tenth and was level par on the 17th tee after picking up and dropping a shot at 14 and 15 respectively.

A superb 18-foot birdie putt saw him move to one-under and he followed it up with a stunning approach over the water on the 18th to leave him within four feet of the hole. He had little trouble holing for eagle to sign for a three-under 67, a score that leaves him in a share of fifth place.

"I hit a great drive down there and had 215 (yards) to the front, 243 to the flag and the wind was howling out of the left. It was just a hard three iron and try to not let it go right," Lowry told PGA Radio.

"I was just trying to get it up somewhere on the left side of the green and thankfully it came off straight at the flag and released down to about three feet. It was a nice way to finish.

"I was just happy to shoot under par out there, it's so tough. It's very tough mentally, every shot requires a good shot, you don't get away with any bad shots out there.

"I am very happy with where I am. I've got a long way to go so hopefully I can get a good night's sleep tonight and get out there tomorrow afternoon and do something."

A week after a disappointing performance in Northern Trust Open, Garcia went around in 65 to hold a share of the lead on five-under.

The Spaniard eagled the second and followed up with an immediate birdie. After dropping a shot at the sixth, he made back-to-back birdies from the seventh but then had to wait until the 18th for his next birdie.

"I hit two really good shots on the first and hit a good putt but just missed it right, and then on two I hit a great drive and a beautiful eight iron and managed to hole it," Garcia said.

"It's funny because the last six or seven times Rickie and I played together either he holed out or I did. Today we both did [Fowler chipped in for par on the 10th] and it's always nice to see."

Thompson holds a share of the lead after a round that included two bogeys, five birdies and an eagle, while Rory McIlroy is seven shots off the lead after a disappointing 72, with defending champion Padraig Harrington is a shot further back.

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