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Irish Open comment: McDowell leads the Irish pack, perfectly placed to pounce as Englishmen head the morning charge

By Gareth Hanna

The three headline Irish starters on Thursday morning are placed just a few shots behind the leaders after positive opening rounds at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Graeme McDowell leads the local men at -5, just two back of the morning lead, with Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry tucked one shot further back.

While those scores weren't quite ideal - the players at least kept themselves in contention, and as McDowell reflected: "You can't win the tournament on a Thursday or Friday, you can only lose it." All of them avoided that and that's a victory for round one.

They would admit they left shots on the course - Harrington was less than enamoured with his efforts, Lowry bemoaned missed putts and McDowell knows he needs to be more accurate off the tee.

They are perhaps fortunate not to be further adrift, both Oliver Fisher and Paul Peterson dropped at the final hole. That means it's Fisher and Matthew Southgate who lead the morning pack - but the Irish are here and well up for the fight.

On the tournament itself, what a great start. The course is look great, crowds are building and the weather's good. Sure what more could we ask for? Edit: The heavens opened as soon as I wrote that. Sorry!

READ MORE AND WATCH: Keep fully up to date and see videos with the Irishmen over at our live blog - Irish Open day one LIVE: Tee times, scores and updates. We follow Rory McIlroy, Matsuyama, Rahm and more as McDowell, Lowry and Harrington well placed after round one

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