McIlroy and McGrane best of the Irish at Open

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Scotland's Colin Montgomerie on 11th fairway during the 3 Irish Open at County Louth Golf Club, Baltray, Ireland.

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Italy's Francesco Molinari holds a one-shot lead after the opening day of play in the 3 Irish Open at Baltray on Thursday.

Molinari defied the unsavoury weather conditions to record a one eagle, eight birdie round and hold a narrow advantage over former Scottish Open champion Johan Edfors.

The 26-year-old Italian's round broke the course record on a day of scintillating scoring at the County Louth GC.   

"I enjoy links golf and I enjoyed it a lot today [Thursday]," the Turin golfer admitted.

"I played a lot of links golf as an amateur and it's just a matter of getting used to it again," he added.

Edfors, the flambuoyant Swede, lies a couple of shots ahead of a gaggle of players that includes the English trio of Nick Dougherty, Robert Rock and Oliver Wilson, whose participation in the event was in doubt up to Thursday due to a persistent neck injury.

Also lurking in the chasing pack is former Open champion, Scotland's Paul Lawrie, who looked very much at home on the links at the County Louth GC.

Irish amateur, Shane Lowry, is among a group of eight players one shot further back on five-under after shooting a superb 67.

More noteworthy players in that group include France's Thomas Levet, Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark and Spain's Jose Manuel Lara.

Outside of Lowry, the best of the Irish were Damien McGrane and Rory McIlroy. Both players finished their rounds on three-under, six shots off the lead.

Meanwhile, Pádraig Harrington once again failed to ignite his season and posted a very disappointing 73. 

"I felt good about a lot of things strangely enough," the Open and US PGA champion commented.

"I will focus on that and in three months I could be on top of the world.

"I was always hanging on in there, but that's how the game is. Some days it just does not go for you and some days everything goes for you. I've just got to stay patient."

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