The New Zealand golfer Ryan Fox has a one shot lead after the opening round of the Irish Open.
Fox fired an opening five-under-par 67 at Ballyliffin in Donegal.
The anticipated glut of low scores did not materialise with Fox’s aggressive approach off the tee saw him card six birdies.
Former Masters champion Danny Willett and his fellow Englishmen Lee Westwood, Robert Rock and Ashley Chesters are among those on four under and in a group which also includes Frenchmen Adrien Saddier and Matthieu Pavon.
Despite the firm conditions on the sun-baked and tight Glashedy links, Fox opted for driver most of his way round and while he only hit “five or six fairways”, the 2016 Northern Ireland Open champion managed to avoid trouble for the most part.
Fox’s only bogey came at the 15th, after he had started at the 10th, and his sixth of the round at his closing hole saw him edge ahead of those on four under.
“Sometimes, it’s a bit easier hacking a lob-wedge out of the rough than a seven iron out of the fairways with some of the contours and the firmness,” said Fox.
A strong performance at the Irish Open could qualify Fox for the third major of the year, the British Open at Carnoustie.
“I’d love to be in the Open and Carnoustie is one of the best golf courses in the world I think and I’d love the chance to play there in an Open.
“As good a start as I can have, really, and hopefully three more rounds and if I can sneak in that top five like last year and get an Open spot, that would be great.”