Irish Open set ablaze by Harrington with Lahinch course record after 24 years

CALL it being the old dog for the long road, or local knowledge from nearly a quarter of a century ago and beyond that.
All because Padraig Harrington could go to school on both as he emerged as the star of the show in the opening round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch this Thursday.
He set a course record on the opening day of the Irish Open, just as he did on his last stroke play round here – back in 1995 when competing in the Irish Amateur Close Championship.
The Stackstown man, who honed his course management and love of links golf on this Lahinch course as much as any in his amateur days rolled back the years with a stunning course record of seven under par 63 to set the Irish Open ablaze at the sun-kissed jewel in the crown of Clare golf.
The 47-year-old three-time Major winner and 2020 Ryder Cup captain had eight birdies on his round — the only blemish on his card coming at the par three 11th that he bogeyed. However, such was his resolve that he bounced back to with birdies on 11 and 12, while he rounded off his record-breaking score with a birdie at the last.
Teeing off at 1.10pm with Ian Poulter and Tyrrell Hatton, Harrington moved under par with a three at the par for second, while a birdie at the storied ‘Dell’ 5th hole was then followed by further birdies at eight and nine as he went out in 30 strokes.
Then three birdies in the four holes after the turn, allied to that bogey on 11 brought him to six under par as he overtook Australian Wade Ormsby, who was in the first group of the day that went out at 6.45am and had posted a five under par 65.
From there Harrington had a run of four pars in a row before he finishing with another birdie as he got up and down from a greenside bunker on the par five 18th for his scintillating 63.
It’s not the first time that the Dubliner has hit a course record around Lahinch — he did it in his last stroke play round on the Old Course. That was in the qualifying round for the Irish Amateur Close Championship in 1995 when he carded a five under par 66 to lead the qualifiers into the matchplay stages.
In an omen for his hopes of a wire-to-wire victory in the Irish Open 24 years on, Harrington went on to claim that Irish Close title in what was the perfect denouement to his amateur championship career that he later signed off when playing in that year’s Walker Cup winning team in Royal Porthcawl.
Harrington’s playing Ian Poulter also delivered a big round, finishing with three birdies on the bounce to go on the four under mark, one behind the second best of the home contingent as another Lahinch veteran in Shane Lowry came home in with a four under par 66.
Lowry’s round was kick-started with a two on the ‘Dell’, while a further birdie on nine saw him go out in one under 33. The 2009 champion was blemish free on the back nine with birdies on 12,14 and 18 for an impressive four under.
“I’m delighted with that,” the Offaly man said afterwards. “This morning I was nervous so to shoot 66 today the way I did I’m hoping tomorrow will be even better and I can give the big crowds something to cheer about.”

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