Thomas Bjorn (Getty Images)
Thomas Björn continued his excellent recent form to lie just one behind clubhouse leader Shane Lowry midway through the opening round of The Irish Open.
The Dane, who won this event last time it was staged at Carton House in 2006, carded six birdies and two bogeys in his four under par 68.
It represented another good effort from the former Ryder Cup star, who finished runner-up in his last two appearances in Austria and Germany.
“I didn't play as well today as I had done the last couple of weeks but I got a good score and that's probably a sign of where I am mentally more than anything,” said Björn.
“I feel comfortable and confident and I got a lot out of this round today, and probably a bit more than I deserved but that's the way golf is sometimes
“It got a little bit tricky today and when the rain came down, it was pretty tough. It was a question of hanging on and not making too many big mistakes and just take your chances when you get them. I took my fair share today.”
Asked how the venue had changed in the seven years since his victory, the 42 year old added: “It's a little bit more open.
“You can miss the fairway this time around. Last time, you certainly couldn't miss any fairways and you were going to be in trouble. You can miss a few fairways here and still get away with it and make pars, and that's the big difference with the golf course this time and it's a bit firmer, as well. It's playing a bit shorter. It gives you opportunities, and there's some par fives out there that you've got to take advantage of.
“There are a lot of people out there today. I haven't played a lot of golf with Rory [McIlroy], and Shane played really well today, and Rory is obviously had his issues today, but he'll fight back from there.
“It was nice. I didn't play particularly well early on and I struggled a bit too with my irons, and it was a bit of an iffy round, but I never made any real big trouble for myself. I holed a chip there on 16, and all of a sudden I started feeling more and more comfortable.”