Irish trio on the ropes in Portugal

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Irish trio on the ropes in Portugal

Gavin Moynihan (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

With the eyes of the golfing world on Winged Foot on Thursday, the European Tour continued quietly on the continent with the Open de Portugal at Royal Óbidos.

From an Irish perspective, it proved an opening day to forget with Gavin Moynihan the best of our competing trio after finding just one birdie in a two-over par 74 that puts him outside the top-70.

Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney is a shot further back at three-over after carding five bogeys and two birdies in his round of 75 while Paul Dunne continues to struggle after returning a four-over par round of 76.

At the top, Vitor Lopes admits he is a man on a mission as he recorded his lowest ever European Tour round to take a two shot lead at the end of day one at Royal Óbidos.

The 24-year old typically plies his trade on the Alps Tour, but took up national spots at the Portugal Masters last week and here at Royal Óbidos Spa & Golf Resort. The decision looks to have paid off as he took advantage of the calmer afternoon conditions to card a seven under par round of 65 and take the lead in a European Tour event for the first time.

“I am very happy, it is my best score on the European Tour and we got the round done so I will relax tonight,” said Lopes.

“It was a windy day and we got lucky not getting the bad weather with the rain, so I was just focusing on hitting greens and fairways, and some putts dropped in. Through 12 I was already seven under so I just kept the same mentality and I could finish it off.

“It is always a big week playing at home and in a European Tour event. I played last week so this week I am more relaxed, I am a man on a mission to make the most of it because I am currently on the Alps Tour playing but I have skipped two tournaments, and I was doing well on the rankings, so I hope I made the right decision.”

Damien Perrier of France overcame a neck injury to record a five under par round of 67, joining Carlos Pigem in a tie for second place, after the Spaniard battled the worst of the morning wind and rain to emerge as the best of the early finishers in the dual ranking event with the European Challenge Tour.

Another home favourite in Ricardo Santos is a shot further back at four under par alongside American Julian Suri – who was runner up the last time he played this event in 2017 – Alexander Knappe of Germany and South Africa’s Garrick Higgo.

Full scoring HERE

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