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Irish Open: Big guns struggle to hit the predicted low notes

With talk of a possible 59 — something never achieved on the European Tour — the Irish Open course held up well given that there was no more than a breeze.

Darren Clarke, continuing a recent revival which might yet force Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie to find another vice-captain, commented: “I was wrong in my initial assessment.

“This morning it would have been impossible to get Killarney playing any easier. Yes the guys will get more familiar with it, but there's so many places that they can put the pins that we just can't get at.”

Rory McIlroy, at eighth in the world the highest-ranked player on view, made eight birdies, but also threw in four bogeys and commented: “It's not as easy as everyone thinks it is.

“There's better courses in Ireland definitely, but if they don't want to have the Irish Open that's the way it goes.”

Padraig Harrington did not drop a shot, but admitted his keenness to end almost two years without a win is making him more tense than he would like to be.

“Sometimes you find it very hard to win and then all of a sudden the floodgates open.”

He should know — his first

major title in 2007 was quickly followed by two more.

And Graeme McDowell, hoping for the same thing after capturing the US open last month, stated: “I just need to sharpen up across the board. I said someone would go super low, but you can defend this course by hiding the pins.”

But it was a day to forget for Robert Rock, the player who lost a play-off to Shane Lowry last year, opened with a six under par 65 — and then was disqualified for signing for a wrong score.

Rock, seventh in The Open two weeks ago, did not spot that his card had him down for a par on the 14th and birdie at the next instead of the other way around.

The 33-year-old said: “It's my fault. I checked it, but didn't see it and it's my job to do that.

“I don't think I've been disqualified for anything before.

“I'd have preferred it to be after an 80!

“I've gone through the same process I always do and I've done a lot over eight years, but this time I just missed it.”

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