Ilonen claims Irish Open lead after Day 1

Finland’s Mikko Ilonen leads the Irish Open in Fota Island after round one.

Ilonen claims Irish Open lead after Day 1

Finland’s Mikko Ilonen leads the Irish Open in Fota Island after round one.

The Finn posted a seven-under round of 64 to leave him two shots clear of the chasing pack of Marcel Siem, Robert Karlsson.

Ilonen started on the back nine picking up three birdies, before bogeying the first and registering a further five birdies to finish with 64.

German Marcel Siem and Swede Robert Karlsson both finished on a five-under-par 66.

In what was a mixed day for the Irish, Rory McIlroy is at risk of missing the cut when he posted a three-over-par 74.

McIlroy blamed a “sloppy” short game for an opening round which left him facing a battle to avoid another early exit from the Irish Open.

“I still drove the ball great and got in the positions that you need to, but short-sided myself a couple of times, hit a couple of loose shots with my wedges and could not get a putt to drop,” said McIlroy.

Padraig Harrington enjoyed his day in the Cork venue shooting a two under par 69, with birdies on nine, 10 and 14.

“69 does no harm, it’s there or thereabouts.” Harrington told Cork’s New Red FM.

“There are opportunities for any player to go low out there. The wind is in a very favourable direction. If I back it up with some good scores, (it) will not rule me out”, he continued.

Graeme McDowell is best of the Irish on three-under par, finishing strongly with three birdies on the final four holes of the day.

McDowell bogeyed the 17th to blotch another excellent final nine holes. McDowell shot pars on seven to 14, then birdied 15, 16 and 18.

Also on three-under Michael Hoey bogeyed just once in the round at the eight hole and notching birdies at 2, 15, 16 and 18.

Peter Lawrie finds himself one shot behind McDowell and Hoey, the 40-year-old Dubliner shot 69 to finish on two-under-par.

Gavin Moynihan also sits on two-under, having shot four birdies at 3, 4, 6 and 18. Moynihan unfortunately double bogeyed the first, having started on the back nine.

20-year-old Moynihan, an amateur from the Island golf club in Donabate Co Dublin, will look to emulate Shane Lowry who won the Irish Open as an amateur in 2009.

Lowry shot an even par 71 to find himself seven shots off the lead.

Darren Clarke completed a solid round to finish on one-over, birding 2, 5 and 15, yet bogeying 6, 8, 12 and 14.

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