The image of Dean Burmester must be credited to Getty Images and used in conjunction with this release only. Please click on image to download a high-resolution version. You can also download video content and tournament information at the European Tour Media Hub
Day One report
There was a three-way tie at the top of the leaderboard after day one of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, as Dean Burmester, Jordan Smith and Aaron Rai all carded five under rounds of 65 at the tricky Galgorm Castle Golf Club.
Play was suspended at the very end of the day with just one group left to finish, but the trio were safe at the top, one stroke clear of Englishman Toby Tree heading into day two in Northern Ireland, where the performance of a homegrown amateur player set tongues wagging.
Irishman James Sugrue, the 2019 Amateur Champion who played at last week’s U.S. Open at Winged Foot, carded a three under 67 to sit just two shots off the pace – drawing comparisons with a famous amateur victory in this tournament by one Shane Lowry 11 years ago.
Lowry, returning to home soil for the first time as Open Champion this week, struggled to an opening five over 75 while European Ryder Cup Captain Padraig Harrington carded a one over 71 in his first competitive appearance in six months.
Jordan Smith: “I am happy with today. I need to go work on my driving a little bit and holing out but apart from that very happy.
“It definitely is rough and with the moisture as well, it is really juicy. If you are going in there then you are struggling to get it out unless you have a really good lie, so it is a good test and it set up nicely.
“It is all weather dependent. If it stays like this it is going to be a challenge for everyone including myself, so more of the same, more good golf, and see how it goes.
“My recovery has been great. It was a long eight weeks, I should have taken off the second Celtic Manor to break it up, and it just got to me a little bit. There wasn’t any other reason apart from that I just didn’t want to play golf. So last week I did nothing, put the clubs a way for a little bit, went and saw my coach and now back on track.”
Dean Burmester: “I’m still cold. It’s been a long time since I’ve woken up and hit balls in the dark too, but the greens were perfect and obviously it worked out for me today. I’m just happy to be back in the hut right now.
“For 16 holes I played flawless golf pretty much. I didn’t really miss a shot. A couple of great up and downs kept the momentum going and then unfortunately on 17 I fell asleep over a three-footer but other than that, honestly I played great.
“I think if you’d asked me three days ago when I got here if I’d take 65, I would have taken it. It’s a beast of a golf course and I hit it good off the tee and if you do that around here, you’ll do good, so 65 in round one – anybody would be happy with that.”
Aaron Rai: “It was good. I had a few good breaks when in the rough on a couple of occasions and fortunately made a few pars out of those situations, and hit a few fairways so I’m very pleased. Anything under par today would have been a good score. The rough was up, the wind was up, it’s a great test.
“It was quite nice not to have four months not playing tournament golf and to work on a couple of things, reset more than anything else. But it’s been very consistent since the restart and it’s nice to keep it going into this week as well.
“Today it was probably the putting that clicked. Whenever I missed the green and needed a few clean-up putts, I made them. I made a few 15-20 footers for birdie to which is key. I think if you can keep mistakes off the card and pick up a couple here and there, you won’t be far away.”
James Sugrue: “I was in the U.S. Open last week and going from there to here is a little bit easier to say the least. It was very tough, very penal, you can hit good shots off the tee and end up ion the rough where you can only take a wedge out of it.
“But it was brilliant, I was delighted to be there. I probably almost felt last week like I was another number, but I said this week I need to forget that attitude and come out and play golf and enjoy it and get around in as few shots as possible.
“European Tour put up a lovely video last night of Shane’s win. It was brilliant, I was just talking to my caddie about it when we were heading back in the car, it was some achievement to win the Irish Open as an amateur, it was some scenes on the final green. There’s a lot of golf to be played yet but obviously I’m very happy with how I played today.”
Padraig Harrington: “I want to go and win the tournament and it’s hard to win the tournament when you’re one over. But I really enjoyed today, really enjoyed being out there and having a game. It was messy in places, just clubbing – it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re just rusty out there, making decisions and some things didn’t match up.
“But there was lots of good stuff and even the bad stuff, I just put down to rust, so I was more than happy with it. It was nice to finish with a par, I wanted to birdie it obviously – finishing with a birdie would have got me back to level par. I missed a couple of putts at 16 and 17, I’m just not playing enough. I really should have trusted my driver on my right to left, I haven’t missed anything right all day and I hung onto it and got myself in trouble.
“But it was nice to hole that last one. The first couple of holes were good but then I lost my way a bit reading the greens. It’s great to finish with a par and come out tomorrow with that.”
Round one scores (incomplete, one group still to finish):
65 A RAI (ENG), D BURMESTER (RSA), J SMITH (ENG),
66 T TREE (ENG),
67 J CATLIN (USA), S GALLACHER (SCO), R KARLBERG (SWE), J SUGRUE (AM) (IRL), O LENGDEN (SWE),
68 S HEND (AUS), J JANEWATTANANOND (THA), G HIGGO (RSA), J HARDING (RSA), L BJERREGAARD (DEN), N LEMKE (SWE), M SIMONSEN (DEN), J GUERRIER (FRA),
69 M ARMITAGE (ENG), N ELVIRA (ESP), S JAMIESON (SCO), R ROCK (ENG), D LAW (SCO),
70 F ZANOTTI (PAR), O FARR (WAL), B STOW (ENG), G STORM (ENG), E FERGUSON (SCO), W ORMSBY (AUS), C SORDET (FRA), J LAGERGREN (SWE), D HUIZING (NED), C HILL (SCO), J SENIOR (ENG), W NIENABER (RSA), D MCGRANE (IRL), J MCLEOD (AUS), M ANTCLIFF (AUS),
71 S BROWN (ENG), L VAN MEIJEL (NED), J LUITEN (NED), P HARRINGTON (IRL), R RAMSAY (SCO), C SYME (SCO), J SURI (USA), D WHITNELL (ENG), A CA?IZARES (ESP), D PERRIER (FRA), A MERONK (POL), L HERBERT (AUS), G COETZEE (RSA), J CALDWELL (NIR),
72 M KORHONEN (FIN), S CROCKER (USA), J MORRISON (ENG), D HOWELL (ENG), M FENASSE (FRA), S SHARMA (IND), J HANSEN (DEN), C SHINKWIN (ENG), R MCEVOY (ENG), D COUPLAND (ENG), R BLAND (ENG), L SLATTERY (ENG),
73 A ROZNER (FRA), D DRYSDALE (SCO), G PORTEOUS (ENG), T MCKIBBIN (AM) (NIR), F LAPORTA (ITA), R SCIOT-SIEGRIST (FRA), M SCHMITT (GER), R MCGOWAN (ENG), A ARNAUS (ESP), T KOIVISTO (USA), N COLSAERTS (BEL), L CANTER (ENG), M BALDWIN (ENG), J KRUGER (RSA), D VAN DRIEL (NED), J VEERMAN (USA), J SCRIVENER (AUS),
74 M KAWAMURA (JPN), M SOUTHGATE (ENG), H PORTEOUS (RSA), G MOYNIHAN (IRL), S SODERBERG (SWE), M WARREN (SCO), J STALTER (FRA), Z MURRAY (AUS), M POWER (AM) (IRL), R WATTEL (FRA), E MOLINARI (ITA), L JOHNSTON (SCO), B RITTHAMMER (GER), W BESSELING (NED),
75 G BHULLAR (IND), C MORIARTY (IRL), A COCKERILL (CAN), P DUNNE (IRL), M LEE (AUS), M KINHULT (SWE), R ROUSSEL (FRA), D YOUNG (SCO), M CAMPBELL (NZL), S LOWRY (IRL), S TILEY (ENG),
76 D HORSEY (ENG), A WU (CHN), S KJELDSEN (DEN), Y CHANG (KOR), B POKE (DEN),
77 J WINTHER (DEN),
78 S GARCIA RODRIGUEZ (ESP), O FISHER (ENG), R FOX (NZL),
79 A CHESTERS (ENG),
83 C SHARVIN (NIR), A PAVAN (ITA),
C PIGEM (ESP), K REITAN (NOR), C HOWIE (SCO),