Tournament host Rory McIlroy found easily upstaged by his guests Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama on day one of the Irish Open at Portstewart.
Rahm grabbed an eagle and six birdies in a seven under 65 to join the Essex duo of Ollie Fisher and Matthew Southgate in second place and just one adrift of American Daniel Im who had raced to six under through just eight holes but then managing just two further birdies in his next ten holes in a new course record 64.
The 32-year old New Jersey-born Im was then joined on eight under just after 7pm by Frenchman Benjamin Herbert, competing in very last group of the $US 7m event.
In stark contrast, McIlroy felt as though he was “swimming against the stream”, managing just two birdies in a very no frills level par 72.
“It was very frustrating and just one of those days where I hit the ball very well and just couldn’t get any momentum or anything going,” said McIlroy.
“Nothing was going my way and it was hard to get anything going in the right direction. It was like I was swimming against the stream all day”, he added, having hit just six of 14 fairways and once again struggled on the greens, taking 33 putts.
“The course was out there for a good score especially when you see what Jon and Hideki managed in shooting five under and seven under and, as I said, it just felt like I was going backwards,” McIlroy added.
It was a much better day for Paul Dunne, Gavin Moynihan and Graeme McDowell who are in T9th on 5 under par, while Michael Hoey, Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington are on four under.
OTHER SELECTED SCORES
-3 David Higgins
-3 Gary Hurley
-2 Dermot McElroy
-1 Colm Moriarty
Par Neil O’Briain
+1 Simon Thornton
+2 Darren Clarke
+2 Richard Kilpatrick
+4 Paul McGinley
+4 Damien McGrane