Monday 19 March 2018

Irish Open: McIlroy makes early move

Rory McIlroy in action during round one of the 3 Irish Open. Photo: Getty Images
Rory McIlroy in action during round one of the 3 Irish Open. Photo: Getty Images

Rory McIlroy's bid to make the 3 Irish Open at Killarney his first professional victory on European soil began brightly today.

The 21-year-old Ulsterman, back in action two weeks after a third place finish in The Open at St Andrews, sank a 12-foot putt on the short third and followed it with another birdie at the 418-yard next.

On two under par McIlroy was the joint early leader with Dubliner Paul McGinley - one of Colin Montgomerie's vice-captains for the coming Ryder Cup - and Swede Patrik Sjoland.

Darren Clarke, another of the assistants for October's match at Celtic Manor but still in with a chance of making the team, was partnering McIlroy and matched his two at the third.

In the group behind Justin Rose, twice a recent winner in the States and making only his third appearance in Europe this year, pitched to two feet on the first and remained one under after three.

Former winner Padraig Harrington and US Open champion Graeme McDowell were among the later starters.

Sjoland, who since winning the title at Ballybunion 10 years ago has been back to the European Tour qualifying school for each of the last five seasons, remained two under after six but then eagled the 513-yard next to go clear at the top.

First to respond, though, was 43-year-old McGinley. The 2002 Ryder Cup hero had a second two of the day on the 211-yard sixth to cut the gap to one.

By then, McIlroy had been joined on two under by ex-Open champion Paul Lawrie, Welshman Bradley Dredge and South African Thomas Aiken.

There has been much speculation that the circuit's first sub-60 round could be produced this week, but the course was certainly not proving a doddle for Indian SSP Chowrasia. He turned in a three-over 38 and then double-bogeyed the short 10th.

Press Association

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