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‘There’s a score out there’: Rory McIlroy upbeat despite shaky start at Irish Open

Holywood star confident about his prospects in second round

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All smiles: Rory McIlroy shares a joke with his caddie Harry Diamond on the first hole. Credit: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

All smiles: Rory McIlroy shares a joke with his caddie Harry Diamond on the first hole. Credit: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

Getty Images

All smiles: Rory McIlroy shares a joke with his caddie Harry Diamond on the first hole. Credit: Patrick Bolger/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy admitted there was a degree of luck about his opening round of level-par at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open as nothing fell for the Holywood man on a tough first day at Mount Juliet in Co Kilkenny.

The World No.10 trails leader Lucas Herbert by eight shots after one round following three birdies and three bogeys in a round where he was never under-par and had to do his fair share of scrambling.

A bogey at the second hole put him on the back foot, and further dropped shots at the sixth and, more frustratingly, the par-five eighth, left him two-over at the turn after he had picked up his first birdie of the day at the par-five fifth.

But he hauled himself back to level with birdies at the 10th and 13th, although he couldn’t find his way into red figures as he parred his final six holes, though by the end he was more hanging on than trying to make birdie as he had to scramble to save par at the last three holes, including at the par-five 17th after driving it into the water.

With the cut looking like it could be around four-under-par after today’s second round, McIlroy has plenty of ground to make up, but he wasn’t feeling too down after his display.

“I didn’t feel like I did that much wrong, I just didn’t hole many putts for birdies. Yeah, just was sort of one of those days,” was McIlroy’s assessment of his round, which left him tied-89th.

“There were a couple holes I didn’t hit it close enough with wedges. Overall just no momentum going forward and, in the end, I did well to keep it level par.

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“It could have been worse. I saved par the last three holes and, you know, at least got in at even par and can get a good night’s sleep and get out fresh in the morning. (There’s a score) obviously out there.”

Meanwhile, defending Open champion Shane Lowry finished at two-under after an opening 70, but that was only good enough to have him in a tie for 57th, although the Offaly man was still confident about his chances going forward.

“There’s a lot of golf to be played. Scoring is going to be quite low so probably going to need a decent score tomorrow to put myself into contention, but you don’t know,” said Lowry.

“You just need to keep plugging away and keep going. On a course like that, you can get a run of five or six birdies in a row and all of a sudden you’re in the tournament.

“That’s my plan, keep going, keep my head down. I wouldn’t say I’m delighted (with my first round) but I’m very happy with the way I played. Went out and got off to a shaky start and I played lovely for the last 12 or 14 holes which was nice.

“Irish Opens are generally a bit, not different, but obviously it’s a huge tournament to me. It means a lot to me. So I want to go out there, I want to do very well and I want to give the crowd out there something to cheer about.

“Two-under is a decent start. Not great but I’m in the tournament now and got three rounds left and see what happens.”

Leader Herbert was the best player of the day, the Australian finding nine birdies in an eight-under 64 to lead by one from America’s Johannes Veerman, but he was modest about his first round in Co Kilkenny.

“I made a really long one on 18 for birdie and that kind of sparked things and got things going,” he said. 

“ It was just try and hit the ball in the right spots, give yourself some looks on the greens and felt like if I could get to five-or-six-under that would be a really good day. A few more rolled in and I got to eight.”


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