India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar made a solid start, compiling a fine three-under 67 to take the 19th place after the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open here. His colleagues, SSP Chawrasia and Shubhankar Sharma did not have as good a day and shot two-over 72 each to be Tied-114th. Both need solid second round scores to stay on for the weekend. Padraig Harrington delighted the home crowd with his lowest ever round in his home national open, a sizzling 63. That put the 2020 Ryder Cup captain in a one-shot lead. Bhullar began quietly with a string of eight pars before hitting a birdie on the ninth. On the back stretch of the Lahinch Country Club, he gave that shot away on 11th, but then quickly birdied the 12th and 13th to get to two-under and added another birdie on 17th.
This year, Bhullar was fifth in Kenya and T-13 last week in Spain. Chawrasia had three bogeys and just one birdie, while Sharma had four bogeys and two birdies. Shane Lowry added to the Irish atmosphere with a four-under 66, while a pair of former World Number Ones in Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood, as well as Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter, all joined Lowry on four under.
Reigning Italian Open champion Thorbjrn Olesen was one of seven players in a share of third on five-under. The day belonged to three-time Major winner and former winner of this event, Harrington. His run of five birdies in six holes around the turn propelled him to a seven-under round and a one-stroke advantage over South Africa’s Zander Lombard, who birdied the final three holes late in the day for a six-under 64.