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Ex-champion Padraig Harrington disappointed with opening 73 on Birkdale return

Royal Birkdale warmly welcomed back one of its former Open champions but Padraig Harrington was disappointed not to have given the crowds more to cheer.

The Irishman won his second successive Claret Jug on the Southport links in the event's last appearance at the venue in 2008, finishing with a flourish with a brilliant five-wood to three feet for an eagle at the 71st hole to ensure he won by four strokes.

There was no such magic on his return with a double bogey, one other dropped shot and no birdies in an opening 73 which left him with plenty to do on Friday to remain in the tournament.

"Conditions were tough but they'd set the pins appropriately - it just wasn't a good scoring day for me," the three-time major winner said.

"I was disappointed early in the round not to make more of it.

"I'll be trying my hardest (on Friday) regardless. The key is hopefully I get a bit of momentum in the round but it's not like you can go out and force it."

On the applause he received throughout his opening round, the 45-year-old added: "I seemed to get a lot of that today.

"I enjoyed walking down 17 and 18 so there was a little bit of sentiment in it.

"They can't take it away from me.

"I hit four-wood off the 17th tee, hit the left rough, a great lob wedge out of it and a beautiful pitching wedge straight down the pin which I thought was stone dead. It came up 15 feet short and I left the putt short.

"I'm glad I played it the way I did in 2008."

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