World number one Rory McIlroy shoots +9 over par 80 in the first round of the Irish Open, But another home town boy Padraig Harrington has delighted the gallery with his first round performance. Just seven days ago the three-time Major champion was forced to retire, at Wentworth Club, for the first time in his career due to a shoulder injury . Today, he fired a -4 under par course record 67 to tie the lead at his home Open with German Maximilian Kieffer.
Padraig and Maximilian shared the top spot on the first day of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation, both carding course record rounds of -4 under par 67 at Royal County Down Golf Club.
Padraig started slowly but finished with a flourish, making five birdies on the back nine compared to one bogey;
“After nine or ten holes I thought to myself, Come on, we’ve got to hit a good shot, no need to be afraid.”
“I know from experience now that I’m in a position where there’s many ways of competing in this tournament.”
“I’ve two options; play great from now on and try and get away from the field or play average and fight it out on Sunday afternoon.”
Soren Hanson is in third place at -3 under par after his opening round 68.
Rory said nothing went right as he struggled to his worst score of the season, and is now in danger of missing the cut at his own sponsored event;
“It was not quite as difficult as I made it look.”
“I was hitting it well on the range, keeping it down and hitting half shots, but the wind was not up that much on the course and I was caught between trying to play two ways. “
“My poor iron play led to missed greens, which led to giving myself a lot of 8- to 12-footers for pars, and that led to missing all of them, worse as I got closer to the green.”
“It’s disappointing because I want to go out there and play well, not just for myself but for a lot of other people.”
“I’ll just have to pick myself up and go out there tomorrow and shoot a good one. I want to give the fans something to cheer about and not just get sympathy claps as I got coming off the ninth green.”
“My goal will be to make some birdies, make my first birdie of the tournament at some point.”
I’ve missed the cut the last two years so I don’t want to make it three in a row. I want to at least go out there tomorrow and fight for it, try to claw my way back towards the cut line and if I can sneak in there, that’ll be great.”
Playing alongside Rory was Rickie Fowler, who carded an opening even par round 71 in his first outing since winning the Players Championship at Sawgrass. Luke Donald went one better with a 70.