Shane Lowry retained the lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship but his advantage was reduced to just a solitary shot by the halfway stage of the tournament.

The Irishman tied the course record with a 10-under 62 to open up a three-shot cushion at the top of the leaderboard after the first round.

Lowry recovered from a poor start at Abu Dhabi Golf Club to stay out in front on Thursday, carding a 70 to move to 12 under through 36 holes.

A three-time winner on the European Tour, the 31-year-old bogeyed the second and third holes before making two birdies on the front nine. He picked up two more shots after the turn, while a short birdie attempt on the green at the par-five 18th narrowly failed to find the cup.

"I'm really happy with that," said Lowry. "I knew today was going to be a bit of a weird day after shooting such a low score yesterday. 

"I just tried to go out and play like I played. To be honest, right from the start, I really feel like I played pretty well today. I think I gave myself a lot of chances.

"Some of the shots early on were pretty horrendous. I battled back and hit some really nice shots out there and hit some in close and made some birdies. I was happy with myself."

South African duo Richard Sterne and Louis Oosthuizen are hot on Lowry's heels, sharing second place on 11 under.

Sterne has yet to drop a shot through two rounds, while Oosthuizen matched his compatriot's four-under 68 despite bogeys at the 10th and 11th.

Early clubhouse leader Lee Westwood also signed for a 68 to sit two adrift of Lowry, with Ian Poulter, Soren Kjeldsen, Tom Lewis and Scott Jamieson a further stroke back on nine under.

Tommy Fleetwood holed a birdie put at the 18th to make the cut, but the Englishman will have to come from three under to win the tournament for a third consecutive year following a level-par 72.

Tiger Woods will kick off his 2019 schedule by competing in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines next week.

Shane Lowry made a blistering start to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as he carded a 10-under-par 62 to tie the course record and take a three-shot lead.

The Irishman was blemish-free in his opening 18 in the United Arab Emirates, matching Henrik Stenson's record – set 13 years ago – at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Having started at the 10th, his front nine was magnificent and he made the turn in 31, missing a chance for eagle on the 18th despite sending his approach to four feet.

Lowry atoned for that disappointment by starting his back nine with three successive birdies, before holing from 20 feet at the seventh and gaining another stroke at the eighth.

He was unable to convert from 12 feet to take the outright course record after another superb approach but still matched his career-best score from the 2009 Irish Open.

"I'm obviously over the moon. It equals the best score I've ever shot," Lowry said. "I knew that, as well, and I said it to my caddie coming down the last – 'A birdie here would be the best score I've ever shot', to which obviously he said, 'Well then why don't you just go for it'. 

"I left the putt short but I felt like I hit a decent putt, it was just a bit more into the grain than I felt, and yeah, obviously I'm very chuffed.

American Matt Kuchar won the Sony Open in Hawaii with a comprehensive four-stroke victory on Sunday.

Kuchar carded a four-under-par 66 in the final round to claim his ninth PGA Tour title and 100th top-10 finish.

The 40-year-old, who was victorious at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in November, had seven birdies to top the leaderboard at 22 under.

Kuchar struggled at the start of his round, tallying bogeys on three of his first five holes. But, he carded five birdies and four pars on the back nine to secure victory.

"I knew good things were going to happen. ... To win two out of three is crazy to comprehend," Kuchar said.

Andrew Putnam finished four strokes back in second following his 68, while Marc Leishman (64), Hudson Swafford (64), Chez Reavie (67) and Corey Conners (64) all ended in a tie for third at 17-under.

Bryson DeChambeau (67) finished in a share for 10th at 14-under, defending champion Patton Kizzire (65) was 13 under, while 2017 champion Justin Thomas was two shots further back (66).

Matt Kuchar extended his lead to two strokes after the third round of the Sony Open in Hawaii on Saturday.

Matt Kuchar fired a second straight seven-under 63 to take the lead at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Friday, while Jordan Spieth missed the cut.

Kuchar will enter the weekend as the 36-hole leader after another 63 at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The American was nearly mistake free, starting his round on the back nine with four birdies in five holes. His only blemish came at the par-four 15th but he recovered with an eagle at 18 and birdies at three and nine.

Andrew Putnam sits one stroke behind Kuchar in sole possession of second place. He used five birdies to stay in contention, including a 52-foot putt on the par-three seventh.

He is 13 under for the tournament after shooting a five-under 65 on Friday.

Chez Reavie and Stewart Cink are tied for third place at 10 under while Ted Potter Jr. and Australian Marc Leishman are a shot further back.

Reavie, who got his only PGA Tour win in 2008 at the Canadian Open, had one of the most impressive rounds as he became the first player in the ShotLink era with three eagle hole-outs from 100-plus yards in the same round. He also became the first player with three eagles on par-fours in the same round and is now tied for the most eagles on par-fours (six) since the start of last season.

Defending champion Patton Kizzire dropped down the leaderboard but had an impressive shot on the par-four 12th. Kizzire's round was plagued with bogeys as he finished with five, but he holed out on 12 for his lone eagle. Kizzire sits with 14 others in a tie for 20th place at five under.

Spieth, making his 2019 debut in Hawaii, was flirting with the cut line late in his second round. He carded three birdies and one bogey on the front nine on Friday, and another birdie and two bogeys through five holes after the turn.

Spieth needed to birdie his last four holes if he wanted a chance at playing through the weekend, and he was on track to do so. He birdied the par-four 15th and 16th. But, a par on 17 halted his final push. He ended with a birdie on 18 to finish one stroke shy of making the cut. It is the first time in six years Spieth has missed a cut in his first start of the season.

Other notable names who did not make the cut, which was two under, were Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Paul Casey and Adam Scott.

Canadian Adam Svensson earned a one-stroke lead after round one of the Sony Open in Hawaii, where Jordan Spieth stumbled in his first appearance of the season.

Svensson carded a nine-under-par 61 – highlighted by seven birdies and one eagle – to top the leaderboard at Wai'alae Country Club in Honolulu on Thursday.

The 25-year-old, whose best finish last season was a tie for 39th, was trailing clubhouse-leader Andrew Putnam but leapfrogged him after four consecutive birdies on the back nine and one final one on the par-five 18th hole.

American Putnam has sole possession of second place following his first-round 62 at the PGA Tour tournament, while Matt Kuchar (63) is a stroke further back.

A handful of golfers are tied inside the top 10, including Brandt Snedeker, Jason Dufner and Cameron Smith, who are in a seven-way tie for seventh place after shooting 66s.

Justin Thomas – the 2017 champion – did not have much luck late, but when it did come it was certainly exciting following three-under-par 67.

The nine-time tour winner was flawless on the front nine. He opened with a birdie on the par-four first hole and carded another birdie just three holes later.

Before he made the turn, Thomas rolled in a 12-foot putt for an eagle on the 9th hole. But, the back nine was a different story.

Thomas had four bogeys, three of which were sandwiched in between one more birdie and an eagle to close out the round.

He found a bunker on the par-five 18th hole and looked as if he might finish with yet another bogey. However, his bunker shot got the perfect bounce off the green and one more off the flagstick for an impressive ending.

Marc Leishman, Davis Love III and defending champion Patton Kizzire ended the day level alongside Thomas in 17th place.

American star Spieth, meanwhile, struggled after opening the tournament with a three-over-par 73.

It was a difficult day for 11-time PGA Tour champion Spieth, who had four bogeys and just one birdie to be tied for 127th and 12 shots off the pace.

Steve Stricker would be "honoured and excited" to be given the chance to captain the United States at the 2020 Ryder Cup.

Stricker, 51, has been touted as a potential captain of USA for the event at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin in September 2020.

He captained the victorious USA team at the 2017 Presidents Cup and was a non-playing vice-captain at last year's Ryder Cup.

Stricker is expected to assist Tiger Woods at this year's Presidents Cup and said he would be thrilled to lead USA in 2020.

"I know about helping Tiger at the end of this year, and I enjoy being a part of that process with whoever the captain may be," he told a news conference on Wednesday.

"As far as two years from now, I just don't know yet. It's something that I would be truly honoured and excited to do right there in my home state of Wisconsin and right down the road, couple hours down the road.

"But no one knows yet for sure. Got to hold off and put it in the PGA's hands and the committee that's making the decision and go from there."

Europe's new captain Padraig Harrington has vast Ryder Cup experience and is "highly respected by all", according to his predecessor Thomas Bjorn.

Padraig Harrington is the best man for the "monumental challenge" of retaining the Ryder Cup on American soil that Europe will face next year, according to Paul McGinley.

Harrington was confirmed as Europe's captain for the biennial matchplay tournament on Tuesday, succeeding Thomas Bjorn, who skippered Europe as they regained the trophy in France last year.

The Irishman will become the third captain from the Emerald Isle in four Ryder Cups. McGinley led Europe to victory at Gleneagles in 2014 before Darren Clarke suffered defeat at Hazeltine two years later.

"It's obviously great for Ireland, and there's no doubt that Padraig Harrington is the best man for the job on this occasion," McGinley told Sky Sports.

"He'll be very diligent, there's no doubt about that, very confident and hopefully continue this great run of success we're having in the European team."

Europe were beaten 17-11 on their last attempt to retain the trophy in the United States and, while McGinley believes it will be a tall order to do so this time around at Whistling Straits, he believes Harrington should have plenty of reason for encouragement.

"It's a big task, it's a task that he'll relish," McGinley added. "Obviously winning away from home is a lot more difficult than winning at home, we're not as good winning away from home, we haven't won away from home as often compared to what we've done when we have been at home, not just win but win relatively comfortably.

"He's got a lot of things in his favour, I think Thomas was blessed with the best European team we ever had in France, I think Pod will be blessed with an even better team than that.

"I think the standard of golf on the European Tour and the players we have on tour is going to ensure that.

"The second thing is the golf course that we're playing on is a European style golf course, it's a golf course that really suits the European style.

"It's windy, it's on Lake Michigan, it's got a links feel to it, so there's a lot of things adding up in our favour but it's a monumental task to win on American soil."

McGinley believes the selection of his vice-captains will be key to Harrington taking on that challenge successfully.

"He's a deep thinker, he's somewhat of a left-field thinker, I just watched his press conference and he talked about filling the role of vice-captain very carefully and I totally agree with that," McGinley said.

"You can't do everything as a captain, your very much defined by the quality of your vice-captains and you have to rely on them a lot.

"The first few days of the Ryder Cup there's four different arenas going on at the same time and you really need one pair eyes focused on [all of it], so the values of the vice-captain are going to be very important to him."

Padraig Harrington is under no illusions about the size of the task awaiting him in the United States in 2020, with Europe's new captain insisting his team's Ryder Cup performance will define his career.

Padraig Harrington was announced as Europe's captain for the 2020 Ryder Cup on Tuesday, but his United States counterpart remains unknown.

Padraig Harrington has been confirmed as Europe's captain for the 2020 Ryder Cup, succeeding Thomas Bjorn in the role.

Padraig Harrington said he is "not the fuzzy, cuddly type" and will look to follow Bernhard Langer's style of leadership when he captains Europe at the 2020 Ryder Cup.

Padraig Harrington has been confirmed as Europe's captain for the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.

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