BALTRAY, Ireland (AP) Francesco Molinari took advantage of calm conditions to shoot a 9-under 63 Thursday for a one-shot lead after the first round of the Irish Open.
Johan Edfors had a 64, while Paul Lawrie, Oliver Wilson, Nick Dougherty, Robert Rock, Shiv Kapur, Jamie Donaldson and Roop Kakko were in a group three shots behind the leader.
John Daly, who finished second at the Italian Open on Sunday, birdied the last hole for a 68. He expressed relief that the wind didn’t blow on the seaside course after battering players in two days of practice.
“It was cold and rainy,” Daly said. “I don’t think I’d have broken par the other two days, but the lack of wind made it easier.”
Rory McIlroy shot 69, while playing partner Colin Montgomerie had a 70. Darren Clarke had a 71 and Padraig Harrington shot 73.
Molinari made a 30-footer for eagle at the long third hole, and another at the 13th.
The 20-year-old McIlroy started slowly with two bogeys on his first three holes but, played the last 10 in five under.
“My game did not feel comfortable but I got round in three under, so I’m not out of it,” he said.
Daly sprayed some tee shots, but a 7-iron got him out of the rough at the first and he saved par.
“I feel like I’m doing better with the putter. I chipped and putted pretty good,” said Daly, playing his third tournament in Europe while serving a six-month PGA Tour suspension.