Irish Open Day One

Rolling updates and commentary on the Irish Open with John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan Thu, Jun 19
LIVE: Irish Open Day One

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  • This event has now ended
  • 10:01

    Welcome to the Irish Times live blog from a balmy Fota Island. Not quite the Mediterranean temperatures of yesterday but there's a compensation in the  early scoring, especially from Padraig Harrington who has hit the birdie trail early.

       Rory McIlroy's announcement yesterday that he will play for Ireland in the 2016 summer Olympics ramped up the feelgood factor ahead of the popular tournament.

    There is no truth in the rumour that Down Hurling manager Gerard Monan is wining his way to Cork  after seeing this picture of the  world number six.  


  • 10:02
  • 10:05
    McIlroy, shot a 63 in yesterday's Pro-Am, but in this morning's opening round of the Irish Open he's struggled a little on his front nine - he started on the 10th - with bogeys on the 11th and the 14th where he duffed a chip to slip to a couple over. He redressed some of the damage on the par five 18th with a birdie.
  • 10:09
    Cork hurling golfer and McIlroy might have swapped a few tips by the look of this photograph.
  • 10:09
  • 10:10
    Speaking or hurling matters Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald may have taken out any lingering frustration from last Sunday's Munster Hurling Championship defeat to Cork during yesterday's Pro-Am.    
  • 10:10
  • 10:14
    While the competitors in the Pro-Am were enjoying a few beers the greenkeeping staff at Fota were cutting the 18th green in preparation for the tournament.
  • 10:14
  • 10:19

    Lounge The late, great Con Houlihan, a big favourite in this parish once said that a man who would misplace an apostrophe is capable of anything. He would have been horrified by the wording Sponsor's over the marquee in the picture as there are multiple rather than a  a single sponsor for the Irish Open.

    This blog would like to acknowledge the sentiment that 'people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.'

  • 10:19
  • 10:22
    Sorry, distracted by other matters so now down to the golf. South African Hennie Otto leads the way on three under having played 10 holes. His best finish this season is a tie for second at  the South African Open.  
  • 10:27

    Otto's been joined at the top of the Irish Open leaderboard by Finland's Mikko Ilonen, who's claim to fame dates back to his  amateur days when he won the West of Ireland Championship (1999) at Rosses Point.

    Eh, that's not strictly true because he's also won the British Amateur Championship (2000) and has  three European Tour wins as a professional.  

  • 10:31

    Irish Times Golf correspondent Philip Reid is fulfilling a role as the Sancho Panza  to the Don Quixotes of professional golf. He's trampling the rough as we speak in pursuit of the Harrington, McIlroy, Gallacher threeball.

    As a visual aid this is probably how Rory McIlroy feels at the moment.

  • 10:31
  • 10:32
    In the interests of full disclosure Philip didn't draw that picture. We've run out of crayons in the press room.
  • 10:34

    Harrington's had a bogey on 18, as a result of a visit to the water.


    -3 Otto, Illonen

    -2 Fichardt, Fleetwood, Walters, Fisher, Manassero, Green

  • 10:37
  • 10:57


    - 4 Walters

    - 3 Bourdy, Fichardt

    -2 Fleetwood, Fisher, Manassero, Ilonen


  • 10:58
  • 11:00
    Things had deteriorated for McIlroy as he makes his way through the front nine, his back nine. He's dropped shots on 11 and the par three, 12th, where he missed the green. He's now three over and seven shots behind the leader, South African Justin Walters.
  • 11:04


     His full name is Justin Jeremy Walters

    His mother is English and he has played team golf for England

    He is 33 and turned professional in 2003

    His best finish this season is tied second in the Joburg Open

    He has missed the cut in his last five tournaments

  • 11:08
    This is where Justin J Walters spent a day last week. Hoylake, venue for the upcoming British Open. Might be a few more punters there in a few weeks time.
  • 11:08
  • 11:08

    Justin J Walters watch.

    He likes Ashworth gear

  • 11:08
  • 11:12

    Toilet faclities out the course at Fota seem to be in short supply. Harrington nips off for a comfort break on four.

    McIlroy tries to follow suit on five but there's eh, no facilities. Old School!

  • 11:13
    Harrington is still one under and McIlroy has clawed a shot back on the fifth, his 14th, with a birdie. The relief of it all. He's still two over though.
  • 11:14
  • 11:17
    The adjacent  Fota Island Wildlife Park took delivery of a pair of Sumatran tigers. Speaking of tigers...........on this date in golf 14 year's ago this happened.    
  • 11:18
  • 11:18
    That was an absolutely beautiful, seamless link. There'll be plenty more of those in this blog.
  • 11:19
    Harrington misses a 10-footer for birdie on the fifth.
  • 11:21
    Walters has been joined at the top of the leaderboard by fellow South African Jake Roos, also 33, who has been a professional for nine years.
  • 11:26
    You gotta say that Ryanair never misses a trick. This is in reference to Rory McIlroy's clubs going missing en  route to Ireland.  
  • 11:26
  • 11:28
    The sun has burnt off the cloud at Fota and it's officially Scorchio!
  • 11:30


    -5 Roos

    - 4 Walters, Ilonen

    -3 Bourdy, Fichardt, Fisher, Levy

  • 11:32
    West Waterford amateur Gary Hurley is currently one under after eight holes. He had an eagle three at the par five, fourth, along with bogeys and a birdie.
  • 11:34
  • 11:36
    Darren Clarke and Damien McGrane are also one under respectively for their rounds.
  • 11:38
    I'd like to apologise to sooner had that latest score update gone up than he dropped a short at the par five, fourth.
  • 11:39
    In reference to earlier post with the Tiger Woods picture and in terms of animal equity. Here's a picture of the Sumatran tiger.
  • 11:39
  • 11:40
  • 11:41
    Nice panoramic shot of Cian McNamara's group.
  • 11:42
  • 11:45
  • 11:49
    McIlroy's travails have taken another turn for the worst with bogeys on six and seven to see him slip to four over. All three players in the group, Harrington, McIlroy and Gallacher were in the same bunker on the seventh. It also cost Gallacher a bogey.
  • 11:53
    There's no way that USA Today can be accused of racial stereotyping. Now where's me shillelagh, I'm off to look for the rainbow and the crock of gold with my fellow Leprechauns.  
  • 11:53
  • 11:55
    Darby O'Gill is always sloping off when there's work to be done here at the Irish Open.
  • 11:59
  • 12:01


    -5 Ilonen, Roos

    -4 Walters

    -3 Bourdy, Fichardt, Fisher, Levy

  • 12:05
    Crowds flock to Fota Island. This one's especially for the Irish Times Sports Editor. Out and about in pursuit of the stories!
  • 12:05
  • 12:15
    McIlroy birdies his last, the ninth. He'll sign for a three over 74, 11 shots worse than his score in yesterday's Pro-Am. His self deprecatory fist pump underlines how hollow the  21-foot putt felt, given the previous 17 holes.    
  • 12:18

    Flying Finn (get used to it) and former West of Ireland champion Ilonen is now six under and two shots clear at the top.

    He's had seven birdies and just a single dropped shot in 16 holes.

  • 12:26
    Harrington follows McIlroy in on the ninth for birdie to shoot a two under, 69.
  • 12:31
    Edoardo Molinari has moved to five under but we're more interested in his absent brother Francesco, or more accurately  the reason why Francesco's coach Denis Pugh had to paint his face in the colours of Italy. We suspect it may have had something to do with the result in Italy's 2-1 victory over England in the soccer World Cup in Brazil.
  • 12:31
  • 12:34
  • 12:41

    The defending Irish Open champion Paul Casey is on the putting green in preparation for the start of his round.  


  • 12:42
  • 12:45


    - 7 Ilonen

    -5 E Molinari

    -3 Bourdy, Finch, Fisher, Walters

  • 12:48
    'Home Boy,' Padraig Harrington, talks about his opening round.
  • 12:48
  • 13:26
     Ilonen's the man so far in Fota, a superb seven under, 64.
  • 13:26
  • 13:27

    The big galleries from the morning that followed Rory McIlroy (74) and Padraig Harrington (69) have not turned their attentions to Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell.


  • 13:27
  • 13:31
  • 13:34

    We've been inundated with requests for the today's pin positions.........that's white lie but here they are anyway.


  • 13:36
  • 13:40
    Fota's fairly hopping as spectators find several ways of getting to the Cork venue including this one.  
  • 13:40
  • 13:42
    Some of the Ireland's top amateurs are excelling, notably Gavin Moynihan, who is two under after 16 holes and West Waterford's Gary Hurley (level) after 17.  
  • 13:49
  • 13:51
    Kevin Phelan, Peter Lawrie and McDowell are one under, Lowry is one over, Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley is level, while Damien McGrane and Simon Thorton both signed for one over, 72s.  
  • 13:52
  • 13:53


    Can anyone catch the Flying Finn, Ilonen who has four top 10 finishes to his name this season?


  • 13:58


    - 2 Harrington, Moynihan (a)

    -1 McDowell, Lawrie, Phelan, Hoey

    Level - McGinley, Kelly, Maybin

    +1 Hurley (a),Clarke, McGrane, Thornton  

    + 3 McGee, McIlroy

    + 4 Shaw

    + 5 Sugrue, Brady


  • 14:19
    They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Here's one to replace the next 984 words.
  • 14:19
  • 14:29

    Here's what McIlroy had to say after his round.

    Rory McIlroy: “I drove the ball great into the positions you really want to; a couple of times I short sided myself on the front nine. It was just a couple of loose shots with my irons and my wedges and I couldn’t really get a putt to drop either. I was just pretty sloppy with the scoring clubs and obviously I need to do a lot better with those tomorrow to be here at the weekend.

    “I have to try and get to four under or five under par tomorrow for the round. All the par fives are reachable for me.”    

  • 14:30
  • 14:37
  • 14:39
  • 14:56
    Nobody's getting any closer to Ilonen, who still leads by three.
  • 14:59
    You could not see the Glanmire Ices van yesterday, given the crowds that queued to get their Cones and 99s yesterday. It's a slightly different story today.
  • 14:59
  • 15:11
    Shane Lowry (level), Graeme McDowell (-1) and defending champion Paul Casey (-2) are about to reaching the turn.
  • 15:14
    GMac is neck and neck with Stephen Ames in a twitter race for a $125,000 prize, His chosen charity is Crumlin Children's Hospital (CMRF)#RBCMcDowell. Here's a few  of his loyal supporters.  
  • 15:14
  • 15:30
  • 15:49
    For health and safety reasons we're obliged to hand over to the football crowd at 4.0pm and they'll be taking you to places you've only dreamed about. DISCLAIMER: Not literally. Carl O'Malley and Patrick Madden are the men who'll be seeing if ENG GER LAND  can get their World Cup up and running and tell short stories and tall tales from 4.0pm. We've a few minutes left so prepare for a big finish.        
  • 15:52
    Philip Reid went back to get an ice cream and look what happened. Some one let the word out that he was coming.  His autograph hand is knackered.  
  • 15:53
  • 15:55

    On a less serious note no one if getting any closer to Ilonen.


  • 15:57
  • 16:02
    Ladies and gentlemen thank you for taking the time to dip in and out of our blog. It'll be up and running again tomorrow morning when there will be no health and safety issues and we'll be allowed to take it past 6.0pm. We'll be there to see if Rory McIlroy can make the weekend, if Padraig Harrington continues to lead the Irish charge and to establish if the Flying  Finn Mikko Ilonen is in a class of his own. The last one's for Cork's sailing crowd.    
  • 16:04
    Fogra speisialta: I'll be charting (no extra charge for the liberal use of nautical terms)  how Ireland fare against New Zealand in the Under-20 World Championship in rugby tomorrow morning. The match is on TG4 at 6.05am and there'll be a match report up on the website as quickly as possible afterwards.