Irish flag flying high in Celadná

Ireland featured strongly as the earlier starters began heading home in Thursday’s first round of the Czech Open.

Ireland were featuring strongly as the early-morning starters began heading down the closing stretch in Thursday’s first round of the Czech Open.

Ireland’s Peter Lawrie topped the leaderboard at 5-under with just three holes to play at the Prosper Golf Resort’s Old Course, situated in the picturesque village of Celadná which lies in the heart of the Beskydy Mountains.

And fellow countrymen Damien McGrane and Shane Lowry were tied for second, a shot back on 4-under, with Spaniard Jose Mauel Lara and India’s Jeev Milkha Singh.

McGrane had played 17 holes, Lara 16 and Lowery and Singh 14.

The 34-year-old Lara, joined briefly at the top when he was at 3-under by England’s battling Nick Dougherty, led for most of the morning, and posted five birdies and an eagle at the long 5th hole, but had also lost three shots at the 7th and 12th and 16th holes when his roller coaster ride reached the 16th tee box.

Lawrie, on the other hand, was rock solid and had fired five birdies without losing a shot as he arrived at the 8th, his 17th, having teed off on the 10th.

Dougherty, a three time winner on the European Tour, has not made the cut in his 20 starts this year, but there were signs that he was maybe starting to see the light again when he fired three birdies on his front nine to join Lara in the lead.

It didn’t last. Two bogeys dropped him back down the leaderboard to 17th, but he hung on after that to finish with a 1-under 71 that should keep him in contention.