Moriarty outshines home stars on opening day at Mount Juliet

John Craven
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Moriarty outshines home stars on opening day at Mount Juliet

Colm Moriarty (Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Glasson’s Colm Moriarty fired a four-under par round of 68 to fly the flag for the PGA in Ireland on day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Mount Juliet.

Representing the region with aplomb, the experienced campaigner, who was a Challenge Tour winner all the way back in 2007, produced a round that included six birdies and two bogeys to sit in a tie for 19th overnight, just four shots back of the lead.

“It’s nice to get off to a solid start like that. I haven’t played much competitive golf this year but I prepared well for this week and it was nice to get down to Mount Juliet a few weeks back to do a nice bit of prep. It’s not a course I would have played a huge amount of events on in the past.” said Moriarty after his opening 68.

“I drove the ball really well and hit a lot of solid iron shots and gave myself a lot of chances and a few dropped. All in all it was a nice opening round and i’m looking forward to tomorrow”

Moriarty’s effort was two better than the next best Irishman, Open Champion Shane Lowry who carded a two-under par 70. Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney was at one-under after carding four birdies and three bogeys while four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy opened his account with an even par 72 to be sitting in a tie for 89th alongside Paul Dunne.

“I hit a few shots out there that I didn’t see at all at the US Open a couple of weeks ago,” said McIlroy who said he felt rusty on day one. “I’m going to go hit a few and straighten that out.”

Australian Lucas Herbert carded a sizzling 64 to move into the lead on day one in Kilkenny, where a host of former Ryder Cup stars sit three strokes off the pace after day one at Mount Juliet Estate.

The 25-year-old already has one European Tour title to his name, having triumphed at the 2020 Omega Dubai Desert Classic in breakthrough season which earned him a 14th place finish on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.

Herbert carded an eight-under par opening round at the sun-kissed Kilkenny venue to move to the summit, ahead of American Johannes Veerman who signed for a bogey-free seven under 65 late in the day while Scot Grant Forrest is a shot further back on six under.

“It was just try and hit the ball in the right spots, give yourself some looks on the greens and felt like if I could get to 5- or 6-under that would be a really good day. A few more rolled in and I got to eight,” said Herbert.

“You can see in the fairways, even walking up the 9th there, starting to get some fairways that look like some pretty typical Irish Open stuff. It’s always fun when you come out and play some firm, fast golf courses. Coming from America, the rough is not as thick as probably been used to but it’s definitely up enough to make you interested out there.”

Martin Kaymer and Nicolas Colsaerts, both of whom were central to Europe’s 2012 Ryder Cup triumph in the Miracle at Medinah, joined fellow former Ryder Cup players Tommy Fleetwood, Thorbjørn Olesen and Andy Sullivan, in a share of fourth place alongside nine others on five-under par.

“I played alright,” said Fleetwood. “There’s things that I would like to tidy up. There was plenty of positives in there. I putted great and sort of definitely on back nine started to have my eye in and I rolled it really well.

“I would like to bring the right side of the golf course in a bit more but at the same time I was hitting a lot of shots with not a lot of shape. I was just blocking it out there a bit. Some of them are very, very tight fairways, as well. So it’s not easy, but I scored – after the first where I hit a bit of a clumsy pitch and that happens, but after that, I played solid and definitely didn’t make any mistakes.If I do that every day, I’ll be very happy but I think I would like to just tidy some things up but really happy with the day.”

As for the other Irish in the field, recently turned Hermitage professional, Rowan Lester was at one-over par, the same score as Kilkenny amateur Mark Power and Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin. Graeme McDowell (+2), Gavin Moynihan (+3), Jonathan Caldwell and Padraig Harrington (+4), Simon Thornton (+5), Caolan Rafferty and Neil O’Briain (+6) and Tramore’s Robin Dawson (+10) completed the Irish scoring on day one.

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