Simon Dyson leapt out of the frying pan and into the firing line, shooting an opening 68 to lie in a four way tie for the lead after the first round of the Irish Open at Adare Manor Hotel & Golf Resort in County Limerick.
Dyson lies at four under par alongside the Swedish pair of Peter Gustafsson and Peter Hanson and Argentina’s Andres Romero.
Away from the course, Dyson is acting chef this week for his housemate, Anton Haig, in their accommodation adjacent to the seventh as he continues to focus on the job in hand.
“This is a big tournament, another big one next week, so you want to put all your focus into them,” said Dyson. “Before, you are a 24, 25 year old lad earning money that you’ve never dreamt of, and you’re seeing the world; it’s very tempting at times. It is pretty much what a few of my mates did, Ken Ferrie and Nick Dougherty, and they just changed their attitude. All of a sudden they’re going to the gym and earning a million quid a year, and I want a bit of it now.”
Dyson’s discipline and maturity brought him two titles last year and puts him in pole position to challenge for the biggest title of his career after a flawless round comprising four birdies.
Hanson was another player not to drop a shot as he too shot 68. Hanson has been working with a former Navy seal, Torsten Hansson, on his mental approach as, like Dyson, he focuses firmly on the golf.
“He’s a very interesting person and what we are working on right now is a lot about concentration and focus which is where I have been struggling a little over the last couple of years.”
Gustafsson’s struggles have been caused by a neck injury but he seems to have shrugged it off to join the group on four under par. Three birdies in his last five holes took him to the top of the leaderboard.
Playing partner Romero also finished strongly with five birdies in his last seven holes to complete the quartet setting the early pace.
South African's James Kingston and Louis Oosthuizen and another Swede in Christian Nilsson lie one off the pace at three under par 69.
Last week’s winner Lee Westwood continued his fine form, holing a long par-saving putt on the last to stay well in contention in the Irish Open, as he continued his bid to make next month's US Open field.
Last week, the 34 year old Englishman holed a 40 footer at the 72nd hole to save par and avoid any danger of a play-off in the Valle Romano Open de Andalucia.
This time it was a 20 footer on the ninth, his 18th hole, to complete a round of one under 71 at Adare Manor.
Having moved to 48th in the World Rankings with his first win in nearly four years last week in Marbella, Westwood is anxious to remain in the top 50 by May 24 to ensure he does not miss the US Open for a second successive year.
His putting, vastly improved since he switched to a left-below-right-hand grip and reverted to a normal-size putter in last week's Andalucia second round, may provide the key to him appearing at Oakmont.
"I'm now holing putts at the right times," he said. "When you do that you can put some good scores together."
Paul McGinley leads the home challenge after a level par 72, his five birdies countered by five dropped shots, while Padraig Harrington posted a one over par 73.
“72 is a very good score in those conditions,” said McGinley. “Five birdies was great, I putted well and holed some nice 25 footers. But the bogeys, I didn't hit the ball particularly well all day. I missed some fairways and had a few going right off the tee and you get into that rough and you can barely move 120, 130 yards which is not going to get me on the greens. The five bogeys were all from driving in the rough.”
Harrington suffered three three putts but holed two good par saving putts on the last two holes.
“At least I kept my score as it was and 73 is well in there,” he said. “You know, keep playing the same way over the next couple of days and things will even themselves out I'm sure and I'll make a few more birdies than I made today.”