Padraig Harrington fired his lowest opening round on the European Tour for 18 years to take a one shot lead on day one of the second Rolex Series event of the season at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
The home favourite won this event in 2007, the same year he claimed the first of his back to back Open Championships, and he showed his remarkable links prowess again at Lahinch Golf Club.
Backed by a large and vociferous home crowd, Harrington carded a 63 that is his lowest round ever at his home Open and moved him to seven under, one ahead of South Africa's Zander Lombard.
Lombard birdied four of his last five holes in a 64 to sit a shot ahead of Rolex Series winner Thorbjørn Olesen, Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Australia's Wade Ormsby, English trio Chris Paisley, Eddie Pepperell and Lee Slattery, and South Korean Hyowon Park, but the day belonged to Harrington.
The 47 year old will lead Europe in the Ryder Cup next year but he showed he can still compete with the very best on the course as he played just his second European Tour event of the season following a broken wrist.
"I like playing inks golf and I knew coming into this run that if I get my head in the game I have an advantage," he said.
"Today I did a lot of good things and holed a few putts here and there and got a few breaks - it all adds up to 63 which is nice. I didn't expect 63 out of it.
"It would definitely be up there with one of the simplest, easiest, most pleasant days ever on the links.
"I know I don't have to play as well as that for the next three days. It would be nice if I did but we'll just go out there and try and do more of the same. If nothing good happens for the next three days, so be it. I know I'm on the right track."
Harrington was among the later starters but soon set about chasing the clubhouse leaders as he played a wonderful shot from the rough for a birdie on the second and put his blind tee shot to eight feet on the famous par three fifth.
A long right to left putt from off the green at the par three eighth then prompted a run of three in a row as he put approaches to around six feet on the ninth and tenth.
Missing the green at the 11th brought a first bogey of the day but Harrington bounced back as he got up and down from sand on the next and made the most of the driveable 13th from ten feet.
The atmosphere was sensational as he made his way home and another up-and-down from the sand on the par five last gave the home crowds what they wanted.
Lombard turned in 32 with birdies on the first, fifth and eighth and a bogey on the second but picked up further shots on the 14th, 16th, 17th and last in his big finish.
"I think it was pretty solid," he said.
"I did an up-and-down from short right on 12 and I was kind of mad at myself for that because I thought, if I can just hang on there until 12, I have a good chance at birdie there and I didn't make it.
"I just kind of took that anger in a positive way and just played really good golf in from there."
Olesen - the Italian Open champion - was bogey free in his 65, picking up shots on the fourth, 11th, 13th and last to go with a monster putt on the 16th.
"I got in trouble there a couple of times and holed two really, really good par saves," said the Dane. "That was key and then coming in, I hit a few good shots and holed the putts.
"I've always loved coming to Ireland. I think links golf, I just embrace it and love it and that helps. It's always been a type of golf that I really, really enjoy."
Park recovered from being two over after three holes with seven birdies in his round - including four in a row from the sixth and a birdie-birdie finish - with Paisley also making seven birdies and two bogeys.
Lorenzo-Vera, Ormsby, Pepperell and Slattery all had a single bogey in their rounds.
Abraham Ancer, Gavin Green, Martin Kaymer, Shane Lowry, Robert MacIntyre, Ian Poulter, Cormac Sharvin, Lee Westwood and Oliver Wilson were three shots off the lead.
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