London - European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington showed he can still play by storming into the lead with a seven-under-par first round at the Irish Open in Lahinch.
European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington showed he can still play by storming into the lead with a seven-under-par first round at the Irish Open in Lahinch.
Making his 24th consecutive appearance in the event, Harrington recorded eight birdies and a solitary bogey to establish a new course record of 63 and enjoy a one-shot lead at the top of a crowded leaderboard.
A broken wrist at the end of last year kept Harrington out of action until March and the three-time major champion started the week ranked 291st in the world after missing the cut in three of his last four events.
"Every week feels like my first week out, trying to find my game, but links golf suits me because you can really work your way around," said the 47-year-old Harrington.
"I did not expect a 63 but it was a bit of a stroll in the park. I've worked a lot harder to shoot 73, that's for sure."
South African Zander Lombard birdied four of the last five holes to move to within one shot of Harrington and ahead of a chasing pack of seven on five under par.
Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer and Shane Lowry are among those on four under.
Leading scores after the first round of the European Tour's Irish Open in Lahinch on Thursday:
63 - Padraig Harrington (IRL)
65 - Wade Ormsby (AUS), Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN), Mike Lorenzo-Vera (FRA), Park Hyo-Won (KOR) Lee Slattery (ENG), Eddie Pepperell (ENG)
66 - Martin Kaymer (GER), Shane Lowry (IRL), Gavin Green (MAS), Abraham Ancer (MEX), Oliver Wilson (ENG), Ian Poulter (ENG), Lee Westwood (ENG) Robert MacIntyre (SCO), Cormac Sharvin (NIR)
67 - Jon Rahm (ESP), Gaganjeet Bhullar (IND), Brandon Stone (RSA), Jacques Kruyswijk (RSA), Marcus Kinhult (SWE), Joakim Lagergren (SWE), Anton Karlsson (SWE), Paul Waring (ENG), Tommy Fleetwood (ENG), Oliver Fisher (ENG), Robert Rock (ENG), Russell Knox (SCO)