Harrington starts well at Irish Open, with Walters in early lead

Justin Walters is the early leader of the 2014 Irish open which is underway at Fota Island Co Cork.

Harrington starts well at Irish Open, with Walters in early lead

Justin Walters is the early leader of the 2014 Irish open which is underway at Fota Island Co Cork.

Walters made a strong opening on the front nine opening with three birdies standing at three under par after five.

The South African found himself two under after the fourth hole, birding the par three third, having birding the par four second and taking par at the fourth.

Walters then added his third birdie of the morning at the par five fifth, making himself three over par for the day.

Walters' compatriot, 37-year-old Hennie Otto, trails Walters by one shot, having kept par over the first three holes, adding birdies at four and five.

21-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, who already has four European tour wins under his belt, picked up birdies on the 11th and 12th.

Having yesterday announced his decision to compete for Ireland at the 2016 Rio Olympics, Rory McIlroy got underway at 7:50 with Stephen Gallagher and Padraig Harrington.

The group of McIlroy, Gallagher and Harrington opened on the back nine on a mild morning in the Cork venue, hosting its first open since 2002.

McIlroy bogeyed the par three 11th hole, while playing partner Padraig Harrington picked up a birdie on the par 5, 10th.

Harrington produced solid par’s at 11, 12 and 13 before grabbing a birdie at 14 and finds himself second on the early board, two under after six.

Stephen Gallagher playing with McIlroy and Harrington opened with five straight par’s and equalled Harrington with a birdie at 15, standing at one under par.

Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick joins Harrington as an early leader with birdies at 11 and 16 leaving him at two under par after seven.

Australian Richard Green and England’s Lee Slattery also stand at two under, Slattery having birdied the second and third.

Scot Paul Lowry opened his day with a birdie on 10, before pulling a bogey at 12 to find him self even after four holes.

2012 Ryder cup winning captain Jose Maria Olazábal got underway at 10 past eight, playing with country man Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Fin Mikko Ilonen.

Olazábal got off to the perfect striking a birdie on the opening par five, 10th hole. The 48 year old Spainard saved par at 12, making one under after three.

Former British open champion Darren Clarke struck a bogy on the 12th after holding par on the opening two holes. Clark is one over after four.

Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell tee off at 12:50 and are joined by Paul Casey, all three are expected to be in the mix on Sunday.

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