Ireland in a strong position at the World Cup of Golf

Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell are only three off the lead

Ireland in a strong position at the World Cup of Golf

Graeme McDowell. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Ireland are placed in a strong position after the opening round of the World Cup of Golf in Australia.

The team of Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell are level par after the opening round of foursomes at Kingston Heath. The Spanish duo of Rafa Cabrera-Bello and John Rahm lead on -3.

Lowry and McDowell played well in testing conditions in Melbourne. The duo recovered from a double-bogey on the par-5 7th hole after six opening pars, to reach -1 after 15 holes. A bogey on the 18th meant they carded for a level-par 72.

Six teams are currently under par in Melbourne, with USA, China and France a shot behind Spain, on -2. England and Italy lie a shot further back.

Friday should be an easier day for scoring, as the fourball format is used for the first time in the tournament. Both Lowry and McDowell will play with their own balls, instead of Thursday's alternate shot format.

Speaking after the round, the Offaly native said he was glad to get through the day on level-par and still in touch with the leaders.

"It was a tough day. This is probably going to be the toughest day of the week to try to play our way into the tournament. We made a good par on 16, a good par on 17 from missing the greens... We get out tomorrow in four-balls and hopefully make a few birdies".

Ireland have been paired with the Austrian duo of Bernd Wiesberger and Martin Wiegle. They tee-off at 11.34pm Irish time on Thursday night.