Sport Golf

Monday 14 October 2019

Harrington finds old Links spark at Carnoustie

Ronan Keating and Jamie Redknapp take a break on the 10th tee during day one of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie yesterday. Photo: PA
Ronan Keating and Jamie Redknapp take a break on the 10th tee during day one of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie yesterday. Photo: PA

Brian Keogh

Pádraig Harrington left Ireland's young guns in his wake in his bid to become the first three-time winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Europe's Ryder Cup skipper might have bogeyed the 18th and finished with back-to-back bogeys at Carnoustie's eighth and ninth, but his three-under 69 still featured sparks of the brilliance that brought him his first Open title at the Angus links in 2007.

"It's knowing the right play at the right time; when to take a shot on, when to go low or go high; learning how to read the lies and whether you will get a flyer or not," said the Dubliner (48), who made four birdies and an eagle three at the 12th in a solid opening round.

His finish left him six strokes behind South African Justin Walters, who shot a nine-under 63 at St Andrews, but he believes his mastery of links golf gives him an edge.

"It's the opposite of instinctive," he said. "It's years of experience, and it comes back pretty quick."

Harrington finished the day tied for 53rd as fellow Carnoustie starters Rory McIlroy shot 70 and Shane Lowry a one-over 73 featuring two birdies and three bogeys.

McIlroy took seven when his drive sailed out of bounds by inches at the par-five sixth, but he was pleased to start well in the team event with his father Gerry.

"It was nice to birdie the last, and my dad bettered me by five shots," said McIlroy, whose 65 in the team event left the father and son duo five shots off the lead.

"It actually turned out to be a decent day." Joking, he added: "As all dads do sometimes, he can start to get on my nerves a bit out there. But for the most part, it's been brilliant, and it's great to have him out here.

"His goal for the week was if he could better me by four a day, 16 for the week, I think we have a decent chance."

The world number two is tied for 79th with Paul Dunne, who shot an encouraging two-under 70 at Kingsbarns, while Graeme McDowell's level-par 72 at Carnoustie left him 122nd.

Open champion Lowry will not be too discouraged heading to Kingsbarns today as his nearest pursuer in the Race to Dubai, Jon Rahm, managed only a one-under 71.

On the Challenge Tour, Ardglass' Cormac Sharvin made four birdies in a level-par 72 to lie just inside the projected cut line at the Hopps Open de Provence.

Ranked sixth in the race for 15 European Tour cards, he's eight strokes behind French amateur Jeong Weon Ko, who took advantage of benign early conditions to fire an eight-under 64 and lead to by two shots in just his third Challenge Tour start.

Like Sharvin, Portmarnock Links' Robin Dawson played in swirling afternoon winds at Golf International de Pont Royal but struggled to a nine-over 81.

At the PGA Tour's Safeway Open in California, former Masters champion Adam Scott opened with a seven-under 65 to lead by one stroke at Silverado Resort & Spa from 2018 Open champion Francesco Molinari and American Matthew NeSmith.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship
Live, Sky Sports, 1.0pm

Safeway Open
Live, Sky Sports, 11.0pm

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