Shane Lowry (Getty Images)
Shane Lowry put
his course knowledge to good use to grab the clubhouse lead during the first round of The Irish Open at Carton House.
The Irishman, who was still an amateur when he won this event as an amateur at County Louth in 2009, carded a five under par 67 to be one ahead of compatriot Cian McNamara, 2006 winner Thomas Björn, England’s Paul Casey and Australian Andrew Dodt.
Lowry had bogeyed the opening hole but hit back with a hat-trick of birdies from the 13th and picked up another shot at the 18th to be out in 33.
He also birdied the fourth and eighth at the venue he represents on The European Tour and where he owns a house.
“I got off to a shaky enough start, bogey on ten which wasn't ideal but I knew my golf was good enough coming into the week and really happy with the way I followed that up,” said Lowry, who captured his second European Tour title in Portugal last week.
“It's a massive tournament. Any big tournament as big as this, I'm up for it. Definitely I was looking forward to it all week.
“I was looking forward to playing and looking forward to getting out there. I was chomping at the bit to get out there this morning and I was just trying to play my way into the tournament nicely, and that golf course, you can shoot 75 out there in the blink of an eye by not doing too much wrong.”
Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley opened with a two under par 70, while World Number Two Rory McIlroy signed for a 74.
Casey was ranked third in the Official World Golf Ranking in 2009 but is currently 169th after struggling with form and fitness, most notably in 2012 after breaking his collarbone while snowboarding.
"It was really good," Casey said of a round containing six birdies and two bogeys. "The greens were superb this morning and I took advantage, although I was kicking myself at not making birdie on the 18th and dropping a shot on the first.
"It feels like I threw away two shots there but overall today was great."
As the afternoon session unfolded, Sweden’s Oscar Floren hit the front with four birdies and an eagle to reach six under.
Elsewhere Dutchman Joost Luiten, England’s Graeme Storm and Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey were all going well on the course at four under.