Irish Open: Day One as it happened

Published Thursday, 28 June 2012
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Thousands of golf fans turned out in Portrush to cheer on local heroes Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell at the Irish Open.

Irish Open: Day One as it happened
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his tee shot on the 14th hole (© Getty)

The sell-out competition - Northern Ireland's first since 1953 - got underway on Thursday amid wet and windy conditions on the North Coast.

While the trio of NI champions attracted the biggest followings, the pace was set on the first day by India's Jeev Milkha Singh and France's Gregory Bourdy

They opened with seven-under-par 65s to take a joint one shot lead.

Padraig Harrington was the best of the Irish on -5, while McIlroy finished on -2 with Michael Hoey, and McDowell and Clarke back on -1.

Rory, who holds the course record at Royal Portrush with a 61 he played when he was 16, three-putted two of his last three holes for a disappointing 70.

The former world number one lamented a "sloppy" finish - but was glad to have his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki for support.

Clarke felt better about his 71 as he had been two over after eight, while USPGA champion Keegan Bradley had to settle for a 73 in his first-ever competitive round in Europe.

Live Blog: Irish Open Day One
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22:20
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'It was brilliant'

Darren Clarke praised the warm reception local fans gave the stars of the golfing world.

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22:18
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'Step in the right direction'

Rory McIlroy admits he was nervous teeing off but described his performance in round one as a step in the right direction.

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19:59
Let's wrap it up

OK folks let's get the leaders and the best of the Irish done and dusted - 11 hours of blogging is enough for today!

-7 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind)
-6 Mark Foster (Eng), Andrew Marshall (Eng), Michael Jonzon (Swe), Matthew Zions (SA) and Edouard Dubois (Fra - after 14)

Best of the Irish is Padraig Harrington on -5, followed by Mark O'Sullivan on -4 and Paul McGinley on -3.

McIlroy finished on -2 as did Simon Thornton and Michael Hoey, with McDowell and Clarke back on -1.

I'm off for a well-earned beer but logon again tomorrow from bright and early for more of the same.

Joe Kearney

Let
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19:28
McGinley reborn

After a quiet couple of years the 45-year-old Dub is back playing great golf this past few weeks.

He holes a curler at 17 and could yet match Harrington as the best Irishman of the day if he birdies the last.

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19:17
Frustration reigns

Rory McIlroy is not a happy boy after missing a four footer for par on the last in what he called "a sloppy finish".

Two bogeys in the last three holes and a failure to birdie the par five 17th turned what could have been a very good five under into a less than stellar two under. Work to be done but with his talent he is by no means too far back.

McIlroy said: "As the day went on the greens got a bit slower and coming from the greens I've been putting on (in the States) it's a big change."

Frustration reigns (©Getty)
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19:07
Ror-ing home

McIlroy gets a bit of a flier on his second into the last and is left with a testing two putt if he is to finish three under.

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19:04
Clarke content

Darren finishes one under but is not too downbeat despite a few missed chances coming in.

The rain break came at the right time for him - a three under back nine after a two over front nine.

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18:53
French fancies

Edouard Dubois, a 23-year-old who thus far has only made waves on the Challenge tour is six under after ten while his more heralded countryman Gregory Bourdy is less of a surprise package at four under after his first nine.

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18:36
No ifs or putts

A bad 30 seconds for the local lads with McIlroy missing a four footer on 16 for par and Clarke a three footer on 17 for birdie.

Clarke stays at one under and Rory's back to three under. Harrington's five under may yet be the best of the Irish.

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18:31
Rich vein of form

If you'd had a bet on who the leading American would be after day one most would have piled on Keegan Bradley with links wildcard John Daly getting a few backers too.

Step forward Rich Beem, the 41-year-old World No185, and the unexpected 2002 USPGA champ. Sterling work for his three under 69.

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18:22
Grin it to win it

Big Darren flashes his thousand watt smile again as he birdies 16 to finally hit red figures at one under.

McGinley meanwhile misses a par putt on 15 to slip back to three under.

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18:19
Cut Diamond?

While a few of the amateurs have gone well, Rory's bessie mate Harry Diamond finished five over and will need a wonder day tomorrow to make the weekend.

Still.. don't feel too sorry for the Belvoir Park man - he's dating a model, has just won The West of Ireland and did I mention he's best mates with Rory McIlroy?

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18:12
AM Dram

So what of the amateurs in the field?

Dermot McElroy and new British Amateur champ Alan Dunbar both got it round in 71 for one under but Portstewart man Paul Culter is two under after the front nine and looking very good for a strong showing on the back.

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18:00
MCs attack

McIlroy joins compatriot McGinley on four under after a quite brilliant birdie on Calamity having hit a laser-guided five iron to no more than seven feet.

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17:54
Monty's battle

Big Colin is fighting hard with birdies at 10 and 11 to get back to two over after a stinking front nine.. that said a bogey on 12 will have him scowling once more.

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17:50
Par and away

Italian teenage prodigy Matteo Manassero is having what used to be called a Faldo-esque round, having parred his first 12.

Consistent.. yes, but he will be getting more than a little frustrated at this stage.

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17:50
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'Bit nervous'

Michael Hoey's playing his cards close to his chest, telling UTV he's hoping to build on a fairly "decent" start - despite the nerves ...

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17:47
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'Worst I could have shot'

G-Mac's another one being hard on himself after the day's play, telling UTV the weather brightened up - but he didn't!

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17:46
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'Such is life'

Poor Padraig Harrington's not feeling too impressed with himself following the first day of action, but he's staying philosophical as he talks to UTV ...

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17:42
Battling Bradley

USPGA champ Keegan Bradley is level after 11 and as Iain Dowie might say is showing good bouncebackability - the last example a fine two at the 11th after a horror double bogey on 10.

He will need to be a few shots into red figures by the close of play tomorrow to be sure of sticking around for the weekend though.

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17:30
Leaders

No news at the top of the board yet with Singh still at the helm on seven under with Foster, Marshall and Zions all in on six.

Of those on the course McGinley on four under and McIlroy on three under may be the most likely to challenge them... Having said that McIlroy has just driven it into a deep fairway bunker.

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17:24
Danny Boy

Last week's winner Danny Willet holes a nice putt at 10 to get back to level par.

Do you think he enjoyed the sweet smell of success after his Cologne victory? I'll get my coat...

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17:20
Bobby Daz-ler

Big Darren holes a long snaking putt to make it two birdies in three holes after bogeying three in a row before that - he's now on level par after 12 and smiling like a Cheshire cat in a golf visor.

Bobby Daz-ler (©Getty)
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17:05
Rors of approval

McIlroy gets it to three under with a tidy birdie on the par five tenth while McGinley marches on with a another birdie on nine to get to four under.

Almost a smile from big Daz too as he birdies the tenth to get back to one over.

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16:58
Paul's well

Paul Lawrie, the '99 Open champion, is three under and looks more certain for a Ryder Cup place by the day.

Paul McGinley, the man who holed the winning putt in 2002's Ryder Cup is on the same mark.

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16:47
Clearish skies

They're back out and the late men may get a fine finish to the day with the wind even dropping a little.

Keegan Bradley was one under after nine but just hoiked his tee shot at 10 into some whin bushes. McIlroy two under and in good shape off the tee.

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15:52
Good news

Players have been let back on the range to warm up and live play will resume at 4.40pm - Still chucking it down mind...

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15:47
Hole in one joy

Play may still be suspended but one man not too worried is Englishman James Morrison who is driving away in a £61,000 BMW after finding the cup with his tee shot at the 14th.

It may be called Calamity but not so for the man who played in the same England youth cricket teams as Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara and Tim Bresnan before switching to golf.

Morrison tweeted: "What a day!!!! hole in one and a spanking new 6 series bmw! could be happier! plus i shot 4 under!!! great club.

He added: "It's a real pleasure to play Portrush, course is pure and the crowds are awesome!"

Hole in one joy (©Getty)
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15:29
Well poised

Of the late Irish starters McIlroy was two under through eight holes when play was suspended and McGinley one better at three under after eight.

Big Darren at two over after nine will be hoping for a stellar back nine when they get back on the course.

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15:15
Wet wet wet

It's coming down in 'steroids' as they say in Norn Iron.

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15:10
And they're off

As the rain comes down again play has just been suspended due to the threat of lightning.

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15:07
His father's son

Jeev Milkha Singh got his sporting prowess from his father Milkha Singh - otherwise known as The Flying Sikh.

At the 1960 Olympics in Rome, 'Milky Singh' finished second in all of his 400m races prior to the final in which he finished fourth in 45.6 seconds, a time not bettered by an Indian athlete until the 1984 Olympics.

A film is now being made about his life and his son spent much of his press conference speaking about how proud he was of his dad.

You would travel a long way to meet a nicer golfer.

His father
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14:49
Singh it loud

Indian maestro Jeev Milkha birdied the last to make it to seven under and is leading by one.

Just nipping into his presser to see exactly how chuffed he is...

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14:47
Wood you believe it

He was much fancied this week but Chris Wood, the 6ft 5" Englishman, has finished six over with a 78.

Good form in recent weeks evaporated today and his fine links pedigree - he's finished 5th and 3rd at the Open - counted for nought.

There's £3 each way I'm not getting back.

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14:31
Clarke of the course

What of Big Darren? I hear you ask.

A mixed bag thus far for the Open champ who having got it to one under after five has just thrown two bogeys at the card to slip to one over.

Clarke of the course (©Getty)
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14:23
Stuck on six

For so long the leader on seven under, Jeev Milkha Singh drops back to six under with just one to play and in a four-way share of the lead.

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14:17
Gust the job

Those pros tucking into their lunch having shot four, five and six under will be glad to see the wind is picking up for the late starters.

The rain this morning was certainly an annoyance but the fact it was flat calm made scoring a lot easier.

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14:13
McIlroy moving

OK, so what did I learn from watching McIlroy, Bradley and Grace?

For one, hitting the fairway is overated as Bradley and Grace both bogeyed the first off perfect drives, while Rory parred from the right rough.

As it stands the World No2 is one under after three while his playing partners are both one over.

McIlroy moving (©Getty)
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14:06
Tight at the top

Joining Mark Foster in the clubhouse lead are the perhaps unlikely triumvirate of England's Andrew Marshall, Swede Michael Jonzon and the wonderfully named Aussie Matthew Zions - all six under.

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13:58
Back at base

OK folks back in situ having followed McIlroy for a few holes. So what's happening? Ahh yes that's my job.

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13:23
Portrush praises

The stars are really impressed with the buzz around the course!

Foster says: "When we came to the course the rain was sideways and yet people were queuing to get in."

"It's amazing here and I've never heard a buzz about the course that there is in the players' lounge this week."

And Harrington says: "It was incredible to see so many people here so early on a miserable day - very impressive.

"And it's only Thursday!"

Portrush praises (©Getty)
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13:21
Leaderboard update

-7 Jeev Milkha Singh
-6 Mark Foster
-5 Nicolas Colsaerts, Simon Dyson,Padraig Harrington, Keith Horne, Thongchai Jaidee, Emiliano Grillo, Michael Jonzon

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13:17
G-Mac reacts

McDowell, who had to be content with a one-under 71 on Day One, says: "I was a couple under when the rain was at its worst, but then went in the bushes and was fighting from then on."

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12:47
Roar-y McIlroy

The crowd around the first erupts as Rory bounces onto the teebox with Keegan Bradley and Branden Grace.

Roar-y McIlroy (©Getty)
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12:45
Singh when you're winning

Jeev Milkha still burning it up out on the course at seven under through 11 holes.

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12:43
Best finisher

Leader for much of the day Mark Foster sits at the top of the pile in the clubhouse at six under.

Having shot five under on the front nine he'd have have hoped for more out of the back nine but would have bitten your hand off for a 66 at the start of the day.

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12:39
Bitter sweet

Harrington and Dyson both finish five under but Padraig walks off with a bad taste in the mouth having hit his best drive of the day on the par five ninth, his last, and failing to make a birdie despite going in with a nine iron.

A three putt par from about 30 feet was not what the doctor ordered but he'll be a lot happier with his score than playing partner McDowell who finished just one under.

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12:30
Sitting comfortably

Clubhouse leaders are Belgian Ryder Cup hopeful Nicolas Colsaerts and South African Keith Horne at five under.

Both by now having a shower and praying for an afternoon hurricane.

Sitting comfortably (©Getty)
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12:20
Three and easy

A treble at the top with Jeev Milkha Singh - the first Indian pro to join the European tour - getting to six under alongside Foster and Horne thanks to the best front nine of the day with just 30 blows.

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12:12
Brucie bonus

That man Harrington again who having found trouble off the tee on his 17th hole - the 8th - pitches in from about 60 yards for the most unexpected of birdies to get five under.

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12:09
Two at the top

Keith Horne birdies 17 to join Foster at the front on six under.

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12:01
Harry Houdini

Best of the Irish on the course, Padraig Harrington is spraying the driver a bit off the tee but his legendary powers of escape come to the rescue time and again and he's four under playing the last.

Harry Houdini (©Getty)
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11:53
Packed tight

There are now 20 players three under or better - they're not tearing he place apart but without a strong wind the course's defences are not all they might be.

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11:44
Horne of good hope

Out in the first match at 7.30 this morning South African Keith Horne is making a great fist of things.

At five under with two to play he's on course to set the clubhouse target and will be hoping to squeeze one more birdie out of the 17th at least.

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11:37
Diamond in the rough

After parring his first four Rory McIlroy's best mate, Harry Diamond, bogeys two of the next three to slip to two over.

Plenty of holes left for the Belvoir Park man and West of Ireland champ to repair the damage.

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11:33
Leaderboard update

-6 Foster
-5 Horne
-4 Colsaerts, O'Sullivan, Wall, Del Moral, Devlin

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11:20
Shakin' all over

The Deputy First Minister is at it again and this it's me on the receiving end of a firm handshake.

Wonder which one will live longer in the memory, today's or yesterday's?

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11:11
Some Mothers...

It's not exactly balmy here but one very brave soul is standing in the sea on his lonesome wearing nothing but his trucks and a rictus grin.

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11:08
Mark Foster

That man Mark Foster again with another birdie at 13 to get to seven under and he's eyeing another birdie on the treacherous par three known as Calamity.

Mark Foster (©Getty)
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10:56
In the hay

Off the back of birdieing the third to get to four under Harrington hits it into the thick rough.

G Mac is just feeling rough after missing his four foot putt and is stuck on one under.

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10:50
G Mac and Harry

Better news for the major men as they both hit it close on their 12th hole.

McDowell will get to -2 if he holes and Harrington to -4.

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10:43
Leaderboard

-6 Foster
-4 Colsaerts, Horne and McElroy
-3 Olazabal, Dyson and Harrington

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10:36
Wild Thing

Like a pied piper - if the pied piper had a gambling problem and a string of broken relationships - John Daly is off and running with a huge galllery following him.

A fine start puts him two under after three.

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10:31
Close but no cigars

McDowell and Harrington both shave the hole with birdie putts but at level for G Mac and two under for Harrington things could be better for the Irish stars.

Close but no cigars (©Getty)
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10:24
Mighty Mc

It may not be the McElroy you expected to be hogging the headlines but at the minute young Dermot is the big news as he follows up his eagle with a couple of birdies to get to four under after 11.

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10:21
Another handshake

Martin McGuinness can't get enough of this handshaking lark as he and First Minister Peter Robinson gladhand G Mac and Harrington as they finish their first nine.

Another handshake (©Pacemaker)
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10:13
Feed me...

I'd love to talk you through that McElroy eagle on nine but as yet there is no live TV feed. Should kick in at about 10.30am.

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10:08
Leaderboard update

Foster hits the front at five under through nine. On three under Hoey and Horne, two under Harrington, Olazabal, Colsaerts, Edfors and the fearless McElroy.

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10:04
Amateur rivalry

Not to be outdone by the seasoned 22-year-old, 19-year-old Dermot McElroy hits two under thanks to an eagle on the ninth

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09:58
Local hero

Which one you ask?

Not G Mac or Darren this time but Alan Dunbar, the Rathmore member who's just won the British Amateur Championship. The 22-year-old is one under after his first six. Life must feel pretty good right now.

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09:51
How low can they go?

Rory tweeted earlier in the week he feared his course record 61 could be under threat this week.

He may not have been joking as even with a wet start the scoring is good.

The back nine usually gives up the most birdies - Rory was eight under in his record round - but if someone can shoot five or six under on the front nine you never know...

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09:42
Rory and Darren

Our other major men may get the best of the day teeing off at 12.50 and 12.40.

Rory is out with USPGA champ Keegan Bradley and the much-fancied South African Branden Grace, while Darren has Ryder Cup star Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera-Bello for company.

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09:32
Respite... for now

It won't last but the brolleys are down for the moment with Mark Foster now four under after the first seven.

He may have been replaced by his Olympic swimming namesake he's handling the wet so well.

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09:28
Leaderboard

Foster -3
McDowell, Colsaerts, Hoey, Olazabal, Edfors and Canizares -2

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09:21
It's raining... birdies

It may be wetter than a geriatric vicar's handshake but that's not stopping these boys scoring.

England's Mark Foster hits the lead with three birdies in his first six and is joined by Ballymoney man Michael Hoey who holed from the fairway at 13 to get to three under.

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09:15
Calamity

More good news for G Mac lovers as the local man joins the lead on two under with a two at Calamity - three shots better than I managed the last time I was here.

Also on the two under mark Ryder Cup captain and twice Masters champ Jose Maria Olazabal.

Calamity (©Getty)
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09:09
Two good

Two twos in the first six holes - mixed with a bogey - put amateur hopeful Dermot McElroy at one under. The 19-year-old will be thrilled with that start.

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09:00
Ministers en masse

It's not only raining cats and dogs but politicians.

Tourism Minister Arlene Foster was first to brave the deluge as she watched G Mac tee-off on the 10th before seeking shelter in the media tent.

Next up First and Deputy First Ministers Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness at 10ish.

Ministers en masse (©Presseye)
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08:55
A wet Royal Portrush

The weather may not be playing ball but things kicked off here at 7.30am and some of the big names are already on the course.

McDowell and Harrington both birdied the 10th, their first, to get to one under but the early leaders are big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, Thailand's Thongchai Jaidee and England's Mark Foster at two under.

A wet Royal Portrush (©Getty)
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08:44
Welcome to our live coverage!

Welcome to our live coverage of the first round of The Irish Open at Royal Portrush. Reporting will be provided throughout the day by Joe Kearney and the UTV sports and online teams.

Live Blog
© UTV News
Comments Comments
2 Comments
John in New York wrote (903 days ago):
Disgraceful coverage by UTV....This is the Irish Open..Hardly a mention of the top 3 Irishmen..disgraceful
Magz in Belfast wrote (904 days ago):
My friend was supposed to be volunteering for the Irish open the next few days and she drove from Belfast this morning to get to it. she ended up totaling her car and was in a bad accident and is now in hospital in Derry waiting to get surgery. Pictures look amazing. I'm sure she would love to have been there supporting Darren and Rory.
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