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Rory McIllroy nicely placed to catch leader Danny Willett

By Liam Kelly

Published 20/05/2016

Lining it up: Rory McIlroy focuses on a putt yesterday at the K Club where he carded a 67, equalling his best performance in the opening round of an Irish Open to date
Lining it up: Rory McIlroy focuses on a putt yesterday at the K Club where he carded a 67, equalling his best performance in the opening round of an Irish Open to date

Masters champion Danny Willett fired a 'catch me if you can' warning to Rory McIlroy as the box office stars of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open paraded their talents at the K Club yesterday.

Willett's return to the European Tour for the first time since his stun­ning success at Augusta last month re­vealed a steely determination to justify his new status as a Major winner.

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke watches his tee shot on the second hole during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke watches his tee shot on the second hole during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. Brian Lawless/PA Wire.
England's Andy Sullivan (left) shares a joke with Northern Ireland's Roy McIlroy on the 4th tee during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. Brian Lawless/PA
Northern Ireland's Roy McIlroy is all smiles on the 4th tee during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Fans greet Northern Ireland's Roy McIlroy as he makes his way to the 2nd tee during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Fans greet Northern Ireland's Roy McIlroy as he makes his way to the 2nd tee during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Northern Ireland's Roy McIlroy putts on the 3rd green during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Joost Luiten of the Netherlands lines up on the 15th green during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen on the 3rd tee during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Ross Fisher of England teesoff on the 16th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Roy McIlroy indicates a wayward tee shot on the 2nd during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen on the 2nd tee during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
England's Andy Sullivan on the 2nd tee during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Shane Lowry of Ireland walks with an umbrella on the 13th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Shane Lowry of Ireland waits with caddie Dermot Byrne on the 13th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Joost Luiten of the Netherlands checks his yardage on the 16th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Shane Lowry of Ireland hits his 2nd shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Padraig Harrington of Ireland hits his 3rd shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Padraig Harrington of Ireland tees off on the 15th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Padraig Harrington of Ireland tees off on the 15th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Padraig Harrington of Ireland hits his 2nd shot on the 14th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Padraig Harrington of Ireland lines up on the 14th green during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Padraig Harrington of Ireland hits his 2nd shot on the 14th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Ross Fisher of England celebrates a birdie on the 14th green during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Shane Lowry of Ireland walks down the 12th hole with his umbrella during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Thomas Bjorn of Denmark tees off on the 12th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Thomas Bjorn of Denmark chats with Martin Kaymer of Gemany (L) on the 12th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Scott Hend of Australia hits his 2nd shot on the 14th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Tommy Fleetwood of England hits his 2nd shot on the 14th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Matthew Fitzpatrick of England hits his 2nd shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Martin Kaymer of Germany hits his 2nd shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Johan Carlsson of Sweden tees off on the 15th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium tees off on the 15th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke watches his tee shot on the second hole during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium tees off on the 14th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Thomas Bjorn of Denmark smiles on the 11th hole with his caddie during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Tyrrell Hatton of England looks down the 14th hole with his caddie during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Wales' Jamie Donaldson on the second tee during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey watches his show go wide off the tee on the second hole during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Scotland's Marc Warren putting on the fourth hole during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Scotland's Marc Warren tees off on the second hole during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey acknowledges the crowd on the fourth green during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Paul McGinley of Ireland checks the lie of his ball on the12th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Paul McGinley of Ireland checks the lie of his ball on the12th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Paul McGinley of Ireland checks the lie of his ball on the12th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Martin Kaymer of Germany hits his 3rd shot on the 10th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Thomas Bjorn of Denmark looks down the 10th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Thomas Bjorn of Denmark hits an approach on the 10th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Thomas Bjorn of Denmark looks down the 10th hole with his caddie during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Matthew Fitzpatrick of England walks with an umbrella on the 10th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Matthew Fitzpatrick of England hits his 3rd shot on the 10th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Matthew Fitzpatrick of England hits his 3rd shot on the 10th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Bernd Wiesberger of Austria tees off on the 13th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Bernd Wiesberger of Austria lines up on the 12th green during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Bernd Wiesberger of Austria hits his 2nd shot on the 13th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain tees off on the 18th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Brandon Stone of South Africa putts on the 17th green during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: David Drysdale of Scotland hits his 2nd shot on th 9th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: David Drysdale of Scotland hits his 2nd shot on th 9th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Hao Tong Li of China tees off on the 18th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Hao Tong Li of China reacts on the 17th green during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Tyrrell Hatton of England tees off during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Joost Luiten of the Netherlands tees off on the 16th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Victor Dubuisson of France hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Ross Fisher of England hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Ross Fisher of England hits his tee shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Andrew Johnston of England tees off on the 17th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: David Lingmerth of Sweden hits his 2nd shot on the 17th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Paul Lawrie of Scotland hits his 3rd shot on the 16th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Paul Lawrie of Scotland hits his 2nd shot on the 16th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand hits his 2nd shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Russell Knox of Scotland hits his 2nd shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Paul Lawrie of Scotland tees off on the 16th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Victor Dubuisson of France hits his 2nd shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Andrew Johnston of England tees off on the 16th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Andrew Johnston of England tees off on the 16th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Paul Lawrie of Scotland tees off on the 16th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Shane Lowry of Ireland tees off on the 16th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Shane Lowry of Ireland wears a black ribbon on his cap as a mark of respect for the late Christy O'Connor Snr during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Shane Lowry of Ireland wears a black ribbon on his cap as a mark of respect for the late Christy O'Connor Snr during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Shane Lowry of Ireland reacts to a missed putt on the 15th green during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Shane Lowry of Ireland reacts to a missed putt on the 15th green during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Shane Lowry of Ireland reacts to a missed putt on the 15th green during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Shane Lowry of Ireland hits his 2nd shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Shane Lowry of Ireland hits his 2nd shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand hits his 3rd shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand hits his 3rd shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 19: Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand hits his 3rd shot on the 15th hole during the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 19, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
England's Matt Ford tees off on the 18th during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez tees off 18th during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
China's Li Haotong tees off on the 18th during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Scotland's Paul Lawrie plays his second shot on the 17th during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
England's Andrew Johnston plays out of the rough on the 17th during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Scotland's Paul Lawrie plays his second shot on the 17th during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
England's Andrew Johnston plays out of the rough on the 17th during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Ireland's Shane Lowry plays his second shot on the 16th during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Ireland's Shane Lowry reacts to his putt on the 15th green during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Ireland's Shane Lowry reacts to his putt on the 15th green during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Ireland's Shane Lowry plays his second shot on the 15th during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Ireland's Shane Lowry putts on the 14th green during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Ireland's Shane Lowry shelters under an umbrella during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
England's Ross Fisher on the 15th tee during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
England's Tommy Fleetwood on the 15th tee during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Ireland's Padraig Harrington plays out of a bunker to the 14th green during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Ireland's Padraig Harrington plays out of a bunker to the 14th green during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PA
Ireland's Paul McGinley shelters under an umbrella as he makes his way to the 14th tee during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Ireland's Paul McGinley on the 15th tee during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
Ireland's Paul McGinley shelters under an umbrella during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 19, 2016. See PA story GOLF Irish. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England is seen with his coach Mike Walker during the Pro Am prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Ken Herring, caddie to Marc Warren, and a Leicester City fan poses with a Filbert The Fox Leicester City headcover during the Pro Am prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Ken Herring, caddie to Marc Warren, and a Leicester City fan poses with a Filbert The Fox Leicester City headcover during the Pro Am prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England in action during the Pro Am prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: A Filbert The Fox Leicester City headcover is seen on Marc Warren's driver during the Pro Am prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England in action during the Pro Am prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Marc Warren of Scotland larks about with a Filbert The Fox Leicester City headcover during the Pro Am prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Marc Warren of Scotland larks about with a Filbert The Fox Leicester City headcover during the Pro Am prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Paul McGinley of Ireland during the pro-am event prior to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland during the pro-am event prior to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Gerry McIlroy, the father of Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in action during the pro-am event prior to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Gerry McIlroy, the father of Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in action during the pro-am event prior to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Lee Westwood of England chats with K-Club owner Dr Michael Smurfit during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Lee Westwood of England signs autographs during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Shane Lowry of Ireland hits an approach shot during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Shane Lowry of Ireland signs autographs during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Shane Lowry of Ireland hits an approach shot during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Shane Lowry of Ireland signs autographs during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Shane Lowry of Ireland hits an approach shot during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Shane Lowry of Ireland hits an approach shot during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Shane Lowry of Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Shane Lowry of Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Shane Lowry of Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Shane Lowry of Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Lee Westwood of England gestures during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Lee Westwood of England tees off during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Lee Westwood of England looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Lee Westwood of England looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Lee Westwood of England hits an approach shot during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Lee Westwood of England hits an approach shot during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Lee Westwood of England smiles during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Lee Westwood of England tees off during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction, Gerry McIlroy, the father of Rory McIlroy and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand walk to the 5th green during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction watches his tee shot on the 6th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland tees off during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland looks on with his caddie during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark tees off during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark chats with his caddie during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark tees off during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England looks down the 8th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England looks down the 8th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England hits his 2nd shot on the 9th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England looks down the 8th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England tees off on the 8th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England walks down the 8th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England tees off on the 10th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England is mobbed by autograph hunters during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England is mobbed by autograph hunters during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England is mobbed by autograph hunters during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Danny Willett of England is mobbed by autograph hunters during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction tees off during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Gerry McIlroy, the father of Rory McIlroy tees off during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Gerry McIlroy, the father of Rory McIlroy catches his ball during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction looks on with Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction watches his tee shot on the 6th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction celebrates with Mark McDonnell of Modest! Management during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction celebrates with his Manager Mark McDonnell during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand tees off during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction chats with Gerry McIlroy, the father of Rory McIlroy and Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction in action during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Gerry McIlroy, the father of Rory McIlroy chats to Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction in action during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction in action during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Gerry McIlroy, the father of Rory McIlroy chips during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Gerry McIlroy, the father of Rory McIlroy chips during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction reacts to his putt on the 4th green watched by two girls during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Singer Niall Horan of One Direction reacts to his putt on the 4th green watched by two girls during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Dermot Desmond and JP McManus (R) look on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks down the 4th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 4th hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland talks at a press conference during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks down the 2nd hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks on during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 3rd hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 2nd hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks down the 2nd hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks to the 1st tee during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: (L-R) Jockey Ruby Walsh poses with Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and former jockey AP McCoy during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his 2nd shot on the 2nd hole during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Jockey Ruby Walsh caddies for former jockey AP McCoy during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: Jockey Ruby Walsh caddies for former jockey AP McCoy during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
STRAFFAN, IRELAND - MAY 18: JP McManus tees off during a Pro-Am round prior to the start of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open Hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club on May 18, 2016 in Straffan, Ireland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

McIlroy entered the fray with con­fidence in his game, and shrugged off the weight of pressure which has regularly stunted his performance level in this tournament.

The outcome was some fine golf played on a tough course in strong winds which kept the 12,834 spectators royally entertained.

Willett shot 65, McIlroy carded 67, equalling his previous best opening round in the Irish Open, putting him right on course to make the cut for the first time in four stagings of this tournament.

Visibly relaxed, the tournament host remained cautiously optimistic for today's second round.

"It's only one day, and I still have to make the cut tomorrow," he said. "Until I get into contention and win this event, I don't think any weight will be lifted off my shoulders, so I'm going to have to try as hard as I possibly can, and focus as hard as I possibly can, to get the job done this week."

Willett, bidding to become the fifth Englishman to win the tournament in eight years, bounced back well from his missed cut at the Players Championship in Sawgrass last week.

"It was a good day. I played some real­ly good golf. I got off to a pretty scrappy start and chipped a few birdies in and got a bit hot with the putter," he said.

"You can't really go out there expect­ing to shoot any kind of number, and 65 was far beyond my expectations for today, especially after waking up with it a bit raining," he said.

"A bit raining" was an understate­ment for the torrential downpour which lashed down on the early start­ers.

The afternoon groups, which in­cluded Willett, McIlroy, Darren Clarke, and Graeme McDowell got the best of the weather.

Shane Lowry and Paul McGinley were among the early birds who bore the brunt of the downpours, but the wind, the length of the course and the premium on driving accuracy helped keep the overall scoring in reasonable bounds

Just 30 of the 156 starters beat par. Callum Shinkwin of England and Jaco Van Zyl (South Africa) were hot on McIlroy's heels with four-under 68.

Martin Kaymer, twice a Major win­ner, and former Irish Open champion Ross Fisher, set the early clubhouse lead at three-under par, and showed in their opening 69 they can make a decent challenge.

Today, the biggest galleries will follow the leaders, Willett, and McIlroy.

They start off the 10th tee, Willett at 8.35am, and McIlroy 10 minutes earlier at 8.25a.m.

McIlroy was pleased that the Mas­ters winner is now in his sights. "Hopefully it entices people to come out and watch the golf over the next three days," he said.

"Having Danny here is obviously a huge help and playing as he did today, it would be great if we could have a battle over the weekend and get the crowds to flock in.

"It will be one I'm looking forward to."

His only blemish on the card was a three-putt bogey on the 14th.

"I think there was more out there.

"I thought it was a very comfortable 67, getting to 5 under after 14 with a couple of par 5s to come, and then had a bit of a blip on 14 with the three-putt, but apart from that I felt like I played pretty well," said McIlroy.

Paul Dunne, who sparkled at the Open last year, shot a creditable 70 in his first Irish Open. He said: "I played the first poorly, and man­aged to get a nice par, and from there, I just played really well.

"I made two sloppy bogeys on 16 and 17, really from nowhere, and it was nice to get a birdie on the last."

Shane Lowry with 71, one-under par, was the next best Irish player.

Belfast Telegraph

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