Singh on song in Ireland

2011-07-28 20:43

Killarney - India's Jeev Milkha Singh carded the lowest round of his career on Thursday when an eight-under par 63 gave him the Irish Open lead and put marquee names Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell in the shade.

The 39-year-old son of a former Olympic sprinter hit an eagle and six birdies which was six strokes better than British Open winner Clarke, seven better than US Open champion McIlroy and nine better than last year's US Open winner McDowell.

"I don't know whether it was a good thing or a bad thing, but 59 did cross my mind," said Singh, a three-time European Tour winner and whose eagle came with a 30 foot putt on the 513-yard seventh.

Clarke admitted he had been disappointed with his round, his first outing since his British Open triumph at Sandwich two weeks ago.

"I didn't come here to make up the numbers," said the 42-year-old. "I hit a lot of good shots and had lots of chances, but didn't quite have the speed of the greens."

McIlroy, out of sorts at the British Open, enjoyed mixed fortunes as he signed for a one-under 70.

The Northern Irishman had bounced straight back from his disappointing performance at Sandwich to set the early pace with four birdies in the first 10 holes before marring his day with a bogey at the 11th and a closing with a double bogey.

Playing in his first tournament on home soil since the US Open, the 22-year-old pulled off what he described as "one of the best shots I've ever hit" to save par at the 14th after a spectacular hook around the trees from deep rough onto the green.

But he met trouble again on the 18th when, lying at three-under par and one off the lead, he went from a fairway bunker into water for his double bogey.

"At four-under through 10, things were going along quite nicely, but I didn't drive it great all day and I played some scrappy golf coming in," he reflected.

"My driving caught up with me at the end. I just need to be more decisive on the tees - I was stuck in two minds."

Of his 130-yard approach at the 14th to within 20 feet of the flag that he had to move nearly 50 yards right to left he said: "All I was trying to do was get it in the front bunker."

Later McIlroy became embroiled in a row on social networking site Twitter with commentator and former European Tour player Jay Townsend.

McIlroy's ire was spiked when Townsend described his course management as "shocking" and "some of the worst I have ever seen beyond under-10 boys' golf competition".

McIlroy responded: "Shut up ... you're a commentator and a failed golfer, your opinion means nothing!"

Townsend stated that he stood by his comments and McIlroy then said: "Well, I stand by my caddie."

McIlroy set the golfing world alight with his eight-stroke win at the US Open, but his hopes of doubling up in the British Open were dashed in the poor weather in Kent when he trailed in only 25th.

It was then announced that McIlroy's relationship with long-time girlfriend Holly Sweeney was over and he was linked with tennis world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki, but he laughed on Wednesday when asked if the tape on his fingers was caused by playing too much tennis.

"Very funny," he said before commenting about his personal life: "I try to keep it as private as possible.

"Sometimes it's not possible, but it is what it is and you just have to handle that as best you can."

Irish Open first round scores at the par-71 course at Killarney on Thursday:

63 Jeev Milkha Singh (India) 63 65 Alexandre Kaleka (France) 65 66 Christian Nilsson (Sweden) 66
Marcel Siem (Germany) 66
Michael Campbell (New Zealand) 66 67 Colm Moriarty (Ireland) 67
Ross Fisher (Britain) 67
Richard Green (Australia) 67
Niklas Lemke (Sweden) 67
Soren Hansen (Denmark) 67
Bernd Wiesberger (Austria) 67
Steve Webster (Britain) 67
Lloyd Saltman (Britain) 67
Raphael Jacquelin (France) 67
Alejandro Canizares (Spain) 67 68 Graeme Storm (Britain) 68
David Horsey (Britain) 68
John Parry (Britain) 68
Oscar Floren (Sweden) 68
Floris de Vries (Netherlands) 68
Ross McGowan (Britain) 68
Lorenzo Gagli (Italy) 68
Richie Ramsay (Britain) 68
Oliver Fisher (Britain) 68
Felipe Aguilar (Chile) 68
Simon Thornton (Ireland) 68 69 David Lynn (Britain) 69
David Howell (Britain) 69
Michael Hoey (Britain) 69
Ignacio Garrido (Spain) 69
Oliver Wilson (Britain) 69
Steven O'Hara (Britain) 69
Thomas Norret (Denmark) 69
Romain Wattel (France) 69
Matt Haines (Britain) 69
Paul Cutler (Britain) 69
Simon Wakefield (Britain) 69
Darren Clarke (Britain) 69
Damien McGrane (Ireland) 69
Thorbjorn Olesen (Denmark) 69
Niclas Fasth (Sweden) 69
Carlos Del Moral (Spain) 69
Joel Sjoeholm (Sweden) 69 70 Alvaro Velasco (Spain) 70
Hennie Otto (South Africa) 70
Barry Lane (Britain) 70
Rory McIlroy (Britain) 70
Simon Dyson (Britain) 70
Peter Lawrie (Ireland) 70
Simon Khan (Britain) 70
Mark Foster (Britain) 70
Darren McWilliams (Britain) 70
Christian Cevaer (France) 70
David Dixon (Britain) 70
Rafael Echenique (Argentina) 70
Alan Dunbar (Britain) 70
Anthony Wall (Britain) 70
Mark Haastrup (Denmark) 70
Keith Horne (South Africa) 70
Markus Brier (Austria) 70
Robert Dinwiddie (Britain) 70
Paul McGinley (Ireland) 70
Jaco Van Zyl (South Africa) 70
Jamie Donaldson (Britain) 70
Peter Whiteford (Britain) 70
Barrie Trainor (Ireland) 70
Richard Bland (Britain) 70
Shaun Norris (South Africa) 70 71 Scott Strange (Australia) 71
Stephen Gallacher (Britain) 71
Jose Manuel Lara (Spain) 71
Maarten Lafeber (Netherlands) 71
James Kingston (South Africa) 71
Florian Fritsch (Germany) 71
Robert Coles (Britain) 71
Andrew Dodt (Australia) 71
Mark Brown (New Zealand) 71
George Murray (Britain) 71
Seve Benson (Britain) 71
Bradley Dredge (Britain) 71
Richard Finch (Britain) 71
Estanislao Goya (Argentina) 71
James Morrison (Britain) 71
David Drysdale (Britain) 71
Richard McEvoy (Britain) 71
David Higgins (Ireland) 71
Robert-Jan Derksen (Netherlands) 71
Shiv Kapur (India) 71
Stuart Manley (Britain) 71 72 Michael Jonzon (Sweden) 72
Anthony Kang (U.S.) 72
Graeme McDowell (Britain) 72
Robert Rock (Britain) 72
Matthew Zions (Australia) 72
Stephen Dodd (Britain) 72
Joost Luiten (Netherlands) 72