Finland’s Mikko Ilonen (pictured by Getty Images) fired five birdies in his closing seven holes to establish a two shot advantage after the opening round of the 2014 Irish Open at Fota Ireland Resort.
Ilonen, a three-time winner on The European Tour, signed for a superb seven under par round of 64, to head an international leaderboard, with the Swedish pair of Robert Karlsson and Magnus A Carlsson sharing second place alongside Germany’s Marcel Siem on five under par.
Graeme McDowell, the 2010 US Open Champion, and fellow Ulsterman Michael Hoey lead the Irish challenge on three under par in a share of ninth position, with three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington a further shot back alongside defending champion Paul Casey.
However, former World Number One Rory McIlroy faces a battle to make it to the weekend after a mixing three birdies with six bogeys in a three over par round of 74, which left him in a tie for 125th place after the first day.
Key player quotes
Mikko Ilonen: “It was a slow start really – the first four or five holes, I felt like I couldn’t get anything going. But I stayed patient and then the birdies kept coming, especially in the end, and I managed to hit a couple of good putts which was nice.”
Robert Karlsson: “Every time you come back to a course which you like and have done well, it’s always a positive. I like the atmosphere here.”
Marcel Siem: “I played pretty solid on the front nine, but I couldn’t hole a putt. I felt like I should have been two or three under. I misread a few putts unfortunately, then I said, let’s shoot five under on the back nine. I shot six under, so I’m happy.”
Magnus A Carlsson: “It’s a good start. The game felt pretty solid today. I put in some nice practice the last couple of weeks, and shots were going the right way today. Putts were dropping, as well, so that was a good start.”
Graeme McDowell: “It was nice to birdie three of the last four there. I had a bit of a whoopsy on 17, trying to throw myself with a five iron and nearly fell over but these things happen. Generally I was happy enough with the way I hit it coming down the stretch. There is room for improvement throughout the game but I’ll take three under par and run.”
Rory McIlroy: “I was very sloppy with the scoring clubs today, the wedges, the short game and the putting. All that was just a little off. I drove the ball beautifully again, putting myself in great positions off the tee and just not being able to capitalise on them or take advantage of those positions that I’ve put myself in. So hopefully I’ll do a better job of that tomorrow and obviously I’ll need something in the mid-60s just to be here for the weekend.”
Complete first round scores from the Irish Open at Fota Island Resort (par 71)
64 M Ilonen (Fin) ,
66 M Carlsson (Swe) , M Siem (Ger) , R Karlsson (Swe) ,
67 A Hansen (Den) , E Molinari (Ita) , D Huizing (Ned) , M Baldwin (Eng) ,
68 A Gee (Eng) , R Rock (Eng) , G McDowell (Nir) , J Roos (RSA) , T Lewis (Eng) , M Crespi (Ita) , J Singh (Ind) , M Hoey (Nir) , R Finch (Eng) , R Fisher (Eng) , D Fichardt (RSA) , G Bourdy (Fra) , J Walters (RSA) ,
69 P Harrington (Irl) , G Storm (Eng) , C Wood (Eng) , K Broberg (Swe) , C Doak (Sco) , J Olazábal (Esp) , P Lawrie (Irl) , P Casey (Eng) , P Sjöland (Swe) , R Wattel (Fra) , S Khan (Eng) , B Paolini (USA) , R Gonzalez (Arg) , S Kim (Kor) , L Hao-Tong (Chn) , G Moynihan (am) (Irl) ,
70 M Korhonen (Fin) , E Goya (Arg) , W Ormsby (Aus) , J Heath (Eng) , M Madsen (Den) , M Lundberg (Swe) , M Manassero (Ita) , A Quiros (Esp) , G Havret (Fra) , S Dyson (Eng) , S Manley (Wal) , J Campillo (Esp) , H Otto (RSA) , L Bjerregaard (Den) , J Carlsson (Swe) , G Stal (Fra) , S Webster (Eng) , M Nixon (Eng) , D Brooks (Eng) , F Zanotti (Par) , L Slattery (Eng) ,
71 S Lowry (Irl) , A Forsyth (Sco) , K Phelan (Irl) , A Pavan (Ita) , T Fleetwood (Eng) , J Dantorp (Swe) , D Drysdale (Sco) , J Kelly (Irl) , M Warren (Sco) , R Santos (Por) , A Wall (Eng) , R Kakko (Fin) , S Kjeldsen (Den) , C McNamara (Irl) , G Maybin (Nir) , D Stewart (Sco) , V Riu (Fra) , J Doherty (Sco) , A McArthur (Sco) , P Whiteford (Sco) , A Saddier (Fra) ,
72 P Lawrie (Sco) , D Clarke (Nir) , D Howell (Eng) , D McGrane (Irl) , R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) , B Rumford (Aus) , S Hansen (Den) , A Levy (Fra) , S Thornton (Irl) , S Walker (Eng) , A Otaegui (Esp) , D Higgins (Irl) , T Pieters (Bel) , M Fitzpatrick (Eng) , R Jacquelin (Fra) , C Del Moral (Esp) , A Cañizares (Esp) , E Pepperell (Eng) , D Horsey (Eng) , P Larrazábal (Esp) , G Hurley (am) (Irl) ,
73 N Elvira (Esp) , S Dodd (Wal) , A Hartø (Den) , H Wen-Yi (Chn) , S Henry (Sco) , R Dinwiddie (Eng) , J Knutzon (USA) , R Green (Aus) , T Hatton (Eng) , A Kaleka (Fra) , F Calmels (Fra) , J Parry (Eng) , D Willett (Eng) , C Lee (Sco) , T Levet (Fra) , B McElhinney (Irl) , R Ramsay (Sco) , O Fisher (Eng) , P McGinley (Irl) , M Miller (USA) , M Foster (Eng) , R Bland (Eng) , S Gallacher (Sco) , D McElroy (am) (Nir) ,
74 S Jamieson (Sco) , R McIlroy (Nir) , J Kruger (RSA) , J Quesne (Fra) , S Kapur (Ind) , B Grace (RSA) , E Dubois (Fra) , M Kieffer (Ger) , E De La Riva (Esp) , G Porteous (Eng) , J McLeary (Sco) , G Bhullar (Ind) , P Waring (Eng) ,
75 S Wakefield (Eng) , T Van Der Walt (RSA) , J Morrison (Eng) ,
76 D Sugrue (Irl) , J Lima (Por) , G Shaw (Nir) , M Staunton (Irl) , E Brady (Irl) , J Hahn (USA) , F Aguilar (Chi) , A Sullivan (Eng) ,
77 J Hansen (Den) , R McGee (Irl) , E Grillo (Arg) , D Mooney (Nir) , J Jeong (Kor) , D Im (USA) ,
79 R Cannon (am) (Irl) ,
82 B McGovern (Irl) ,
Source: European Tour