Ilonen grabs Irish Open lead
Finland’s Mikko Ilonen shot a course record 64 to take a two-shot lead after the first round of the Irish Open.
The world number 63 fired eight birdies and one bogey in his round, with five of those birdies coming in his last seven holes.
That gave him a two-stroke cushion over Germany’s Marcel Siem and Swedish pair Robert Karlsson and Magnus Carlsson.
Ilonen nearly let a couple of poor shots on the 10th get the better of him, but was able to put it behind and move on – much to his advantage.
“I made a mess of our 10th hole, the first hole,” he said. “I hit a big drive, was in the middle of the fairway with a sand wedge and I walk off with a five.
“Luckily I didn’t get too angry with it and I just get going and kept hitting greens and kept giving myself chances. Luckily in the end I made a few putts.”
It was a welcome return near the top of the leaderboard for Karlsson, who was European number one in 2008 but suffered from blurred vision the following year and lost his touch.
“It was nice, I’m very, very happy,” said Karlsson, who also had a top-10 finish in his native Sweden recently. “I worked quite hard when I’ve been at home since the Nordea Masters, so it’s been nice to keep it going.
“I’ve done a bit of work with my coach and things are coming together quite nicely. The long game was very, very good today.”
The likes of Padraig Harrington and defending champion Paul Casey, meanwhile, lie on two under, while Graeme McDowell is one better after an opening 68.
Rory McIlroy opened with a disappointing 74 and already finds himself 10 shots behind the leader.
Defiant Lee Westwood does not believe playing in LIV should harm Ryder Cup hopes
Westwood doesn’t agree with penalties and sanctions.
Shane Lowry welcomes closer ties between Tours in response to threat from LIV
The PGA Tour and DP World Tour announced the next phase of their strategic alliance.
Padraig Harrington fears LIV series poses threat to future of DP World Tour
The US Senior Open champion thinks there is only room for the PGA and one other tour in the world game.
Steve Stricker makes Padraig Harrington sweat as Irishman wins US Senior Open
The pair were rival captains in last year’s Ryder Cup in Wisconsin.
Golfers warned of further sanctions if they continue to play in LIV breakaway
The DP World Tour has issued fines of £100,000 and tournament bans to its members who played in the inaugural LIV Golf event earlier this month
DP World Tour hits members who played inaugural LIV series with £100,000 fines
They have also been banned from several forthcoming tournaments including the Scottish Open.
Rory McIlroy not impressed as Brooks Koepka becomes latest big name to join LIV
The world number two labelled the players who have joined the new series as “duplicitous” for the way they have handled their breakaway.
R&A confirms LIV Golf Series players will be allowed to compete at Open
The 150th Open Championship will get underway at St Andrews in three weeks’ time.
Matt Fitzpatrick turns to other major winners for advice on dealing with fame
Fitzpatrick won the US Open on Sunday.
Brooks Koepka set to join Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series
Koepka’s brother Chase played in the opening event at Centurion Club earlier this month.