Irish Open: Day One

All of the action live from Portstewart as Rory McIlroy begins defence of his Irish Open crown

Johnny Watterson Thu, Jul 6
LIVE: Irish Open: Day One

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  • 08:02

    Hello and welcome to the Irish Open from a sun-kissed Portstewart. Conditions are damn near perfect just a zephyr to tax the early starters. The sun is out and is ushering away the early morning dew. John O'Sullivan here and I'll be taking you through the morning's play.

    There's a decent crowd already here and they'll be scampereing for positions around the 10th tee. Shane Lowry (8.10), Graeme McDowell (8.20) and Padraig Harrington (8.30) are in consecutive threeballs.  

  • 08:04
  • 08:15
    There hasn't been a birdie yet amongst the early starters. Italy's Edoardo Molinari has got off to a less than auspicious start. He's run up a double bogey at the first and is currently last in the 12 or so players who are on the course.  
  • 08:16
  • 08:24
    The honour of the first birdie at the 2017 Irish Open goes to........drumroll....a former West of Ireland and Irish Open champion Finland's Mikko Ilonen. He shares the early lead with Spain's Pablo Larrazabal.  
  • 08:26
    I have it on good authority that Ilonen like his brown soda bread. There's plenty more where that came from folks.  
  • 08:26
  • 08:27
    Ilonen is now the outright leader as he has just birdied the 11th, one clear of Larrazabal and 2014 Ryder Cup hero Jamie Donaldson, the man who secured the winning point for Paul McGinley's men.  
  • 08:31
    BIRDIE: Ireland's Shane Lowry (-1) has managed a perfect start with a three at the par four, 10th.  
  • 08:34
    For those who want to know a bit more about the Irish Open course, Philip Reid's piece is required reading. Here is the link.
  • 08:41
    Graeme McDowell has recorded a par at the 10th, his first hole. He's playing alongside Justin Rose and last week's winner, the French Open champion Tommy Fleetwood.  
  • 08:56
    It's a case of steady as she goes for the three Irish players currently on the course. Shane Lowry (-1), Graeme McDowell (par), Padraig Harrington (par).  
  • 08:56
  • 09:00

    Tee times.

    Starting at 1st hole

    7.30 – Jacquelin, Howell, Gallacher 7.40 – Southgate, Kimsey, Rock 7.50 – E Molinari, Manassero, Stone 8.00 – Brooks, Knappe, Khan 8.10 – Porteous, Immelman, Ramsay 8.20 – Bertasio, Quesne, Warren 8.30 – Peterson, Horsey, Hend 8.40 – Waring, Stewart, Ritthammer 8.50 – Aguilar, Jamieson, Walters 9.00 – O Fisher, Hanson, Jensen 9.10 – Fasth, Drysdale, MA Carlsson 9.20 – Sterne, Smith, Campillo 9.30 – O’Briain, Chesters, s Aiken

    12.30 – Fahrbring, Wattel, Im 12.40 – Stalter, Kieffer, Bjerregaard 12.50 – Hoey, Colsaerts, Karlsson 13.00 – Levy, McGinley, Jaidee 13.10 – Hatton, Westwood, Dunne 13.20 – Matsuyama, McIlroy, Rahm 13.30 – Fitzpatrick, Poulter, Willett 13.40 – Kjeldsen, Clarke, Johnston 13.50 – Wood, Tanihara (Jpn), Li (Chn) 14.00 – Havret, Perrier, Lawrie 14.10 – Fox, Angles, Hurley 14.20 – J Carlsson, McGrane, Otaegui 14.30 – Moynihan, Hebert, Armitage

    Starting at the 10th hole

    7.30 – Paisley, Bjork, Kilpatrick 7.40 – Brazel, Wall, Larrazabal 7.50 – Donaldson, Lipsky, Ilonen) 8.00 – Olazabal, Romero, Uihlein 8.10 – Cabrera-Bello, Lowry, Pieters 8.20 – McDowell, Rose, Fleetwood 8.30 – Jimenez, Harrington, Sullivan 8.40 – Bjorn, Olesen, Paratore 8.50 – Frittelli, Quiros, Wang 9.00 – Aphibarnrat, Chan, Lagergren 9.10 – Fraser, Rumford, Burmester 9.20 – Siem, Hanson, Lima 9.30 – Thornton, Fritsch, Walker

    12.30 – Broberg, Fichardt, Finch 12.40 – Manley, Pavon, Moriarty 12.50 – Heisele, Canizares, Detry 13.00 – Zanotti , Wallace, Dubuisson 13.10 – Chawrasia, Lee, Bland 13.20 – Wu, Dodt, Gouveia 13.30 – Luiten, Dredge, Bourdy 13.40 – Scrivener, Van Zyl, Shinkwin 13.50 – Otto, Morrison, Dyson 14.00 – Karlberg, Storm, Stal 14.10 – Higgins, De La Riva, Langasque 14.20 – Ormsby, Slattery, Coetzee 14.30 – McElroy, Gros, Elvira

  • 09:10
    BIRDIE: Ilonen (-3) may like brown soda bread but he's also partial to Irish golf courses. The 2014 Irish Open champion has birdied three of the first four holes and is currently the man to catch at Portstewart.  
  • 09:15
    All the things about Ilonen that you desperately want to know. He's 37 years old, from Lahti in Finland, won the West of Ireland Championship in 1999, the British Amateur Championship (2000), has five wins on the European Tour including the Volvo World Matchplay and his best finish (geddit) in a Major is the 2014 US PGA Championship.  
  • 09:16
    Lowry (-1) through three holes, McDowell (par) through three holes and Harrington (par) through two holes.  
  • 09:18
    For those Man City fans out there, taken from Wednesday's Pro-Am.  
  • 09:18
  • 09:25
  • 09:27
    Essex boy Matthew Southgate is one of a number of players who hav climbed to three under and a share of the lead. Hands up who remembers his poignant story from this time last year.  
  • 09:28
    Southgate managed to commandeer some of the headlines following Rory McIlroy's Irish Open win at the K Club last year; no mean feat.  
  • 09:31

    In 2015 the 28 year old Southgate was diagnosed with testicular cancer, yet somehow he managed to negotiate three stages of qualifying school and at the K Club, finished fourth, winning £150,000 to secure his Tour card. Few will forget his tears on the 18th green.  

  • 09:32
  • 09:35
    James Corrigan's article on Southgate from last year is worth a read
  • 09:39
    BIRDIE: Southgate (-4) moves into the outright lead. Starting on the first he's birdied the fourth, fith, seventh and eighth.  
  • 09:41
    Shane Lowry (-1) hasn't been abale to dip his bread in the back to back par five 13th and 14th but McDowell (-1) has birdied the 13th.  
  • 09:45
    BIRDIE: GMac makes it back to back birdies, McDowell (-2) just two behind the early leader.  
  • 09:47
    On the weather front here at Portstewart, it's overcast but warm.  
  • 09:50
    BIRDIE: Harrington joins the Irish players in red figures with a birdie at the par five, 13th. The 14th is another par five and McDowell (-2) birdied both. Lowry (-1) could only manage a couple of pars.  
  • 09:52
    Justin Rose (-3) has just gone birdie, eagle through the 13th and 14th his fourth and fifth holes.  
  • 10:06
    BIRDIE: Harrington (-2) has a two at the par three, 15th.  
  • 10:06
  • 10:07
    Irish Open leader Southgate (-4) played the front nine in 32 shots.  
  • 10:08
    The early scoring is good, reflecting the benign conditions.  
  • 10:11
    Got a chance to play Royal Portrush last night. Brought it to its wait that's the other way around. It's in wonderful condition and the changes to the layout, particularly the new seventh and eighth holes are stunning.  
  • 10:14
    BIRDIE: Local boy McDowell who played his golf as a boy out of the Rathmore club about two miles down the road has birdied the 16th, his seventh. He's one shot behind the leader, Southgate (-4).  
  • 10:15
  • 10:26

    BIRDIE: Southgate (-5) has added another red figure to his card at the 11th.

    BOGEY: McDowell(-2) drops a shot at the 17th.  

  • 10:27
    There are 78 players on the course at present.  
  • 10:29
    BIRDIE: England's Anthony Wall moves into second place with bridies at the first and second, his 10th and 11th holes. He turned in two under, 34 having played the back nine first.  
  • 10:29
  • 10:36
    There are currently 44 players under par from the 78 players out on the course. I make that 56 per cent.  
  • 10:37
  • 10:47
    BOGEY: It's back to back bogeys for McDowell (-1) as he turns in 35 shots.  
  • 10:47
  • 10:48
    Royal Dublin's Niall O'Briain has started with four pars from the first hole.  
  • 10:54
    For those rugby fans travelling to Portstewart to watch the golf fear not, the final test between the All Blacks and the Lions will be broadcast on the big screens in the tented village and Ireland fullback Rob Kearney will be on hand to perform some half-time and full-time analysis.  
  • 10:54

    Here's the official communique.

    FOLLOWING the British and Irish Lions’ dramatic win against the All Blacks in Wellington to set up a thrilling test series finale in Auckland this Saturday (8.35am), local sports fans can rest easy that they don’t have to make an ‘either or’ decision whether to watch the rugby or go the  Dubai Duty Free Irish Open hosted by the Rory Foundation... they can now do both!

    The Dubai Duty Free Irish Open takes place this week at Portstewart Golf Club, and organisers have arranged for the live screening of the international rugby clash of the summer to be shown on a huge screen in the Championship Village complex, courtesy of Sky Sports.    

    While Saturday is traditionally known as ‘moving day’, sports fans won’t have to move too far to revel in what will be a feast of sporting action both outside and inside the ropes.  

    To add to the occasion, fans will be able to enjoy live half-time and full-time analysis with rugby legend Rob Kearney.

  • 10:55
  • 10:55
    BIRDIE: Southgate's (-6) is easing through the gears to mix a sporting metaphor.  
  • 10:55
  • 11:03
    PA's golf correspondent Phil Casey doesn't miss much.  
  • 11:04
  • 11:05
    BIRDIE: Harrington (-3) rolls in a 12-footer on the first hole, his 10th.  
  • 11:07
  • 11:09
    BIRDIE: Rose (-4) gets in on the act on the first.  
  • 11:11
    Speaking of red figures on the scorebard what about this run from England's Oliver Fisher (-4). Par, par, bogey, birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie; that's five in a row. he's currently playing the ninth.  
  • 11:13
    There are 45 players under par so far in the morning from 78 starters.  
  • 11:13
  • 11:27
    BIRDIE: McDowell (-2) gets one back at the second while Rose (-5) moves to within one shot of the leader, Southgate (-6)
  • 11:31
    NEW JOINT LEADER: Paul Petersen (-6) turned in four under with birdies at five and eight and an eagle at seven. He's just birdied two of his first three holes on the homeward journey. He's one of four Americans in the field.  
  • 11:33

    I know you're all dying to know more about Petersen.

    Grew up in Oregon, went to college at Oregon State and turned professional in 2012.

  • 11:33
    After stints on the Canadian Tour and Asian Tour, he won his first European Tour event under conditional status as he held off the challenge of defending champion Thomas Pieters to claim the title at the 2016 D+D REAL Czech Masters.
  • 11:34
    Playing in just his 23rd European Tour event, he was just the seventh left-hander to win in Tour history. Enjoys drinking craft beer when relaxing away from the course.
  • 11:42
    BIRDIE: Southgate (-7) reclaims lead with a birdie on the 16th.  
  • 11:42
  • 11:43
    Very clever this.  
  • 11:43
  • 11:44
    BIRDIE: Lowry (-2) finally gets a birdie putt to drop. He's had a lot of looks as they say.  
  • 11:46
    Once played a Pro-Am with Scotland's Stephen Gallacher. Brilliant company. Delighted to see him at five under with one to play.  
  • 11:46
  • 11:47
    BOGEY: Harrington (-2) drops the first shot of his round at the par three, third.  
  • 11:49
    BIRDIE: McDowell (-3), starting at the 10th, was three under after seven holes before two bogeys at 17 and 18 saw him slip back. He's two under regulation figures for the first four holes of the front nine  
  • 11:54
    BIRDIE: Petersen (-7) joins Southgate at the top of the leaderboard, five birdies and an eagle through 13 holes.  
  • 12:00
    CLUBHOUSE LEAD: Gallacher (-5) signs for a 67.  
  • 12:00
    BIRDIE: Fisher's (-6) remarkable blitz continues six in seven holes.  
  • 12:01
    Royal Dublin's Niall O'Briain (-1) eight pars and a birdie on the front nine.  
  • 12:05
  • 12:10
    60 ALERT:  Petersen has moved to eight under and the tournament lead with four holes to play. Okay it's not likely but the American is going gallant as they once said in the past.  
  • 12:11
  • 12:12
    BIRDIE: Harrington (-3) makes his fourth birdie of the round at the fifth, his 14th.  
  • 12:14
    BIRDIE: McDowell (-4) drains a 20-footer at the par three, sixth, his 15th hole. D'Irish going well.  
  • 12:16
    McDowell drives into trouble at the seventh. Commentator's curse. Well you get the drift.  
  • 12:19
    NEW CLUBHOUSE LEADER: Matthew Southgate signs for a seven under par, 65.  
  • 12:28
    Harrington in trouble off the tee on the seventh.  
  • 12:31
    Jamie Donaldson shoots a 66.  
  • 12:40
    Fisher (-8), a good friend of Rory McIlroy's - he was at the latter's wedding - has had eight birdies, an eagle and two bogeys in his round so far with just the three pars, in 14 holes.  
  • 12:44
    Harrington (-4) had birdied the sixth but having been wild off the tee, his provisional also found the heavy rough.  
  • 12:52
    BIRDIE: McDowell (-5) with his seventh birdie of the round. He's playing the ninth, his final hole.  
  • 12:52
    BIRDIE: Shane Lowry, birdies two of his last three holes to shoot an opening round of 68. It's probably the least he deserved based on the number of chances he gave himself.  
  • 12:53
    Fisher's (-9) tour de force continues. He's the outright leader playing his final hole.  
  • 12:53
  • 12:58
    Harrington escapes with a par on the seventh after a wayward tee shot.  
  • 12:58
  • 12:59
    McDowell's caught a decent lie in the rough on the ninth.  
  • 13:05
  • 13:13
    McDowell makes par on the ninth to shoot a 67. Rose matches that score.  
  • 13:26

    There are 19 players 68 or better. It's into the second half...well you know what we mean and Rory is  walking up towards  the first tee with playing partners Matsuyama and Rahm.

    Enda Kenny gives him a little pep talk as he rolls up and through the gap onto the first tee.

  • 13:27

    Rory. Iron off the tee. Twirls it. Nice

    Matsuyam straight into the hay. Ughh

    Rahm. Big. The three are away.

  • 13:29
  • 13:30
    "I think I am standing on some of these blind tee shots feeling more comfortable than the other guys," says McDowell (-5). Well, he did grow up around here. Good start.
  • 13:33
    Rahm rolls in a long, lbirdie putt on the first. Matsuyama, recovering from his visit to the marram misses his putt but sinks the one back for bogey with Rory steadily kicking off with par.
  • 13:35

    The wind is up a littel for the afternoon starters with expectations that the scoring will be a little harder. Oliver Ficher's -8 thro 17 looks pretty meaty now.


  • 13:38
    Just a thought as Rory goes to the  second  tee. They are calling him the Host. Not good. Just feels that invites distraction. He's not exactly polishing the glasses and stocking up on the fine wines but Host infers a heavy off course schedule. No?
  • 13:41
    Paul McGinley is level par thro two hole with Greystones' Paul Dunne even after the first. So steady starts from them.
  • 13:42
    Dunne sinks a long - 10 foot putt - for birdie on the second. Straight in.
  • 13:44
    Dunne is in the group just in front of Rory, who hits the second green. But spin and gravity brings it back and he's a 30 foot putt for birdie.
  • 13:46
  • 13:47

    The leaderboard has changed with a pair of 65s leading.


  • 13:53
    Irish 30-year-old 1949th ranked Neil O' briain birdied three in a row on the back nine before giving one back at 16. He's -1
  • 13:57
    Rain is beginning to fall in Portstewart. Shocked to the core !
  • 14:00

    Rahm is a club and a half out from the tee at the par 3 third hole. Rory's goes wide right and short too but on the green.

    "I couldn't hit that any better," he says to JP inferring he was a club out.

  • 14:05
  • 14:07

    Rory's long...long birdie putt on 3 is left proper short by gosh. He has still a bit to do for par.

    Dan Im by the way is the player with the hot start. The American is 4 under thro six holes.

  • 14:11

    Rahm goes birdie, par bogey and is level threo three holes.

    Rory misses his second putt on 3 - hits it through the break and makes bogey. He's +1. Can't read his lips but it is not nice.

  • 14:11
    That man Im is -5 thro seven holes. There will always be one!
  • 14:11
  • 14:14
    Immense carry from Rory on the par 5 fourth hole. He'slooking to get the shot he dropped on the third on this hole and he's in position to do just that.
  • 14:17
  • 14:20
    Paul Dunne drops a par putt from three feet and stays on -1. he's playing with Westwood, who goes to +1 with a six footer that just...well just misses. Wrong line.
  • 14:23
    Rory hits the 583 yard par five with an iron on his second shot. But the ball fails to reach the level part of the4th  green and rolls down and down and down. Still he might get the putter out for his third.
  • 14:25
    Im moves to -6 thro eight holes. What a start from the American.
  • 14:27
    Aghh Rory leaves himself another tickely putt for birdie on 4 as he pitches from the side of the green with Rahm and Matsuyama closer from further away.
  • 14:29
    Rory  rolls it in for birdie and is level par. Rahm and Matsuyama follow with birdies.
  • 14:31
    Daniel Im ranked 542 in the world: Par, birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie, par, birdie, birdie.
  • 14:34
    Dunne is going well. He's -1 thro five holes, a tap in par on five making it look easy at the moment.
  • 14:38
  • 14:43
    Rory hits a wedge to four feet at the 5th  but pushes  his putt  right. Poor enough putt. Maybe a push and a misread. Missed birdie chance there.
  • 14:44
  • 14:50
    Well, well Rory hits an 18 handicapper's shot on the par 3 sixth hole. The ball is left and it's short and it rolls back beyond the greenside bunker into short rough. Never had a chance to even touch the green.
  • 14:52
  • 14:52
  • 15:02
    Rory does not recover, throws the ball up to the  pin at the sixth  but not close. He misses it back and he's now +1. The headline intoday's Irish Times was "McIlroy eyeing global domination." When exactly?
  • 15:05
    Dunne moves to -2. He had an eagle putt which just ran two feet past the   seventh.
  • 15:11
    Rahm is up on the par 5 seventh hole  in two. Eagle putt coming up. Matsuyama is taking the scenic route again from the marram grass but hits the green. Very acceptable from there.
  • 15:11
  • 15:15

    Rahm rattles in an Eagle putt on 7

    Rory taps in for a birdie 4 and gets him back to even. On to 8.


  • 15:16
    On the 8th there's plenty of drama. Westwood's approach slam dunks into the hole and pops out. Dunne coming in after him does the same thing, his ball hitting the cup as well and jumping to the side.
  • 15:19
    Dunne taps in his short putt to go -3 thro eight holes. Easily the best of the Irish in the afternoon session.  
  • 15:19
  • 15:26
    Rory knocks up his iron to around 10 feet on 8. He's level and needs to get someting going. Here would be good.
  • 15:30
    Poulter is going well. He's just put a -3 number beside his name. Annoying isn't he?
  • 15:31
    Rory lips out. He stays on level par after 8 holes. It's just not going very well for 'The Host'
  • 15:32
    Great recovery from Dunne high up in the hills. He muscles it out and up at nine. The crowd like it....he should hold on to his -3 at the turn.
  • 15:34
  • 15:38
    Dunne drops his third birdie in a row for -4 at the turn. That one came from a slashing iron from heavy rough that he crushed onto the green. That pushes him right up the leaderboard to T14 and level with Lowry and Harrington.
  • 15:45
    Rory misses another chance on 9 from eight feet. Still no red beside his name, the chances are slipping away from him. He's level at the turn.
  • 15:48
  • 15:57
    Another putt rolls on by from Rory on the 10th. You just feel it is not happening for him on the greens. Still level par.
  • 16:11

    Im takes the lead at -8.


  • 16:20
    Im misses the chance to go two clear as his birdie putt on 15th slips by on the high side. McIlroy is still struggling to get anything going and finds the sand on the 12th.
  • 16:20
  • 16:46
    If it wasn’t for bad luck, Lee Westwood wouldn’t have had any at all today. His second at the par five 14th flies into a gorse bush and he’ll do well to find that. Paul Dunne, playing in the same group, was in trouble off the tee but hacks back out and is in decent shape.  
  • 16:55
    Out of the frying pan and into the fire for Westwood. By some miracle he (or a spectator) found his ball in the gorse, took a penalty drop and promptly hit his fourth into more bushes. Another penalty drop needed. This could get ugly.
  • 16:57

    Ouch. That’s a triple-bogey eight for Westwood and after grinding his way to one-under he slips back to two-over.  

  • 17:03
  • 17:08

    McIlroy remains at level par and, in fairness, that’s probably what he deserves. A stone cold putter (sound familiar?) hasn’t helped but he’s thrown in the odd sloppy shot as well. He’ll need a decent start tomorrow morning if he’s to mount a serious defence of his title. As things stand, Paul Dunne and Graeme McDowell head the Irish challenge on five under, three behind Daniel Im who has just finished on eight under.  

  • 17:17
    A third birdie on the bounce, this time on the 15th, moves John Rahm to seven under. McIlroy, from much closer, is unable to follow him in and you’d fear for his putter’s short-term future. Paul Dunne has been in some interesting spots off the tee but is getting it around and remains at five under.  
  • 17:38

    Rahm has an eight-footer on the 17th to take a share of the lead. His drive, you ask? A mere 363 yards. Dunne has been all over the place off the tee, another wayward one on the last prompting evasive action from the gallery, but his ability to scramble has been fantastic.  

  • 17:46

    Rahm’s birdie attempt on 17 misses the target, but he launches another pile-driver down the last. Up ahead, Dunne’s latest hack from the rough came up short of the green but a delicate chip leaves him every chance of saving par.  

  • 17:59

    Paul Dunne knocks in this putt to finish on five under. A great day for the Greystones man. Rahm’s putt slips by, as does McIlroy’s who finishes with 11 straight pars. So we have Im on eight under, Fisher, Southgate and Rahm on seven under, with Donaldson, Drysdale and Fitzpatrick on six under.  

  • 18:00
    “It was amazing,” says Dunne of the support he received. Not least because “people were finding my balls in the rough!”
  • 18:08

    And that’s our lot on a day that was none too shabby for the Irish, with the notable exception of the tournament host. Graeme McDowell made the most of his local knowledge, finishing on five under where he was joined by Paul Dunne who gave a masterclass in scrambling while Shane Lowry, Michael Hoey and Padraig Harrington are just a shot further back. We’ll be back bright and early tomorrow morning for coverage of the second round from 8am.