Shane Lowry struggles in the opening round of WGC defence

The Offaly native is 12-shots off the lead

Lowry, Golf, WGC Bridgestone, Ohio, Offaly

Picture by: David J. Phillip / AP/Press Association Images

Shane Lowry has began the defence of his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title with a first round of 76 in Ohio.

The Offaly native, who has taken a calculated risk in defending his title, instead of playing in the Open de France, lies 12 shots off the lead, in a tie for 51st place.

Six shots worse off than his opening round last year, Lowry struggled on the back-nine, shooting three consecutive bogeys. His only birdie of the day came on the second hole.

William McGirt leads the tournament by three shots. The American shot a bogey-free 64, for -6 as he looks to get the biggest win of his career. McGirt is looking to become only the second golfer to win The Memorial and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in the same year. Tiger Woods did so on four separate occasions.

World number one Jason Day is in a tie for second place on -3 with Ryder Cup-star Jimmy Walker and Emiliano Grillo. Jordan Spieth is in a group one shot further back on -2.