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Irish Open: Patience pays off but Rickie Fowler wanted more

By Peter Hutcheon

Rickie Fowler was extremely disappointed to end up on level par after starting his day with back-to-back birdies.

It was the perfect start for the American, particularly in the company of tournament host, friend and rival Rory McIlroy.

The Californian said patience was the key to his score and that's something he is going to have to stick with if he is to have an impact on the tournament.

"There weren't very many opportunities to be aggressive today," he said.

"I really tried to keep moving forward and stay patient.

"I think it's a good solid start and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."

Two shots better off was another veteran of the 2007 Walker Cup, Danny Willett, who said he didn't find the weather conditions difficult at all.

"The weather can be brutal here but today its a two to three-club wind, but that's what links golf is. I think it's great," he said.

Willett was delighted to be paired with Darren Clarke for the first couple of rounds and said he had certainly taken the opportunity to get some advice on the place.

"He's obviously grown up playing this kind of golf and I had a chat with him the day before when I found out we were playing together,

"It was good to be playing with Luke Donald as well. He keeps it very straight which you need around here and it's a good group to go out in."

With Willett at two under is Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen after his 69.

"I played really well the whole day," he said.

"There were a couple of three-putts out there, but I never really got into any serious trouble.

"I hit some good drives and made some good putts. This was the complete opposite to Wentworth last week.

"I come from a windy place and I grew up shaping shots in the wind so I enjoy it a bit more than some of the guys."

Ernie Els will feel that he is still in contention after his opening level par 71.

The South African eagled the 12th hole to one of the biggest roars of the day, but he also had three bogeys on a somewhat raged back nine.

Sergio Garcia, playing with Padraig Harrington in the group behind Els, also struggled in the wind and ended up with a four over 75.

A birdie at the first was about as good as it got for the Spaniard who then dropped shots at both of the next two holes and rounded off the back nine with a double-bogey six.

Lee Westwood was never really at the races with a three over 74.

At least Rory McIlroy's place at the bottom of the field was eventually usurped by American Michael McDermott who hit an 11 over 82 after a dreadful opening round.

Further Reading

Irish Open: Catch me if you can is reborn Padraig Harrington's cry 

Irish Open: Darren Clarke says course was great, he just made too many errors 

Irish Open: Tee-off times in the second round of the European Tour's Irish Open

Irish Open: World No 1 Rory McIlroy well below par as his homecoming turns into a nightmare

Irish Open: Pals are expecting Rory McIlory to roar back

Irish Open: Patience pays off but Rickie Fowler wanted more

  Irish Open: Graeme McDowell determined to tame the beast at Royal County Down

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