sluggish starts

Home favourites all off the pace after first day of Irish Open

Lowry is best-placed of the high-profile home challengers at Mount Juliet, six shots off the lead.

THE HIGHEST-PROFILE IRISH golfers have significant ground to make up on leader Lucas Herbert at the end of the first day of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet, with Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry, Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell all off a sizzling pace set by Australian Lucas Herbert. 

Herbert shot an eight-under 64, leaving him two shots clear of the second-placed duo of Grant Forrest and Johannes Veerman. 

On a sparkling day suited to low scoring, Shane Lowry finds himself best-placed of the leading home challengers: six shots from the lead, after a two-under round of 70. His round went awry on the par-five fifth hole – the 14th of Lowry’s round – when he lost his ball with an errant tee shot. Lowry ultimately took a bogey, which he clawed back with a birdie on the par-four seventh.

“I lost that ball on the fifth”, reflected Lowry. “We were waiting on the tee and having the chat and I lost concentration which I was really disappointed with, because I don’t like doing that and giving away shots. I will move on and try and shoot as low as I can the next three days.” 

dubai-duty-free-irish-open-day-one-mount-juliet-estate Shane Lowry. PA PA

Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, is eight shots from Herbert, tied for 89th place following an even-par round of 72. McIlroy bogeyed his second hole, but took the shot back with a birdie on four before instantly bogeying the par-three fifth. He dropped another shot on the eighth hole, and then birdied holes 10 and 13 to finish with a round of 72. 

He admitted it was a frustrating day. 

“A little bit”, said McIlroy. I saved par on the last three holes coming in so it could have been worse, but it sort of was. I didn’t get off to the greatest of starts. I don’t feel I did that much wrong, but I didn’t hole many putts for birdies. Overall, no momentum going forward and in the end I did well to keep it at level-par.”

Paul Dunne is tied with McIlroy on even-par. 

Padraig Harrington fared worse, shooting a plus-four 76, with his Ryder Cup vice-captain Graeme McDowell two shots better off. 

It proved to be a much better day for Athlone’s Colm Moriarty, who finished with a four-under round of 68, leaving him four shots from Herbert. 

Niall Kearney, meanwhile, is in a tie for 75th place after a one-under round of 71. 

Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Day One Selected Scores 

1 Lucas Herbert -8

T2 Grant Forrest, Johannes Veerman -6

T4  Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Tommy Fleetwood, Martin Kaymer, Nicolas Colsaerts, Thorbjorn Olesen, -5

T19 Colm Moriarty, -4

T56 Shane Lowry, -2 

T74 Niall Kearney, -1 

T89 Rory McIlroy, Paul Dunne EVEN 

T108 Rowan Lester, +1 

T122 Graeme McDowell, +2 

T131 Gavin Moynihan, Mark Power, +3 

T140 Padraig Harrington, Neil O’Briain, +4 

T146 Simon Thornton, +5 

154 Caolan Rafferty (AM), +7 

155 Robin Dawson, +8

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