Irish challengers struggling badly at Royal Birkdale

Harrington, Lowry and Clarke all finish over par while McIlroy makes poor start

Padraig Harrington acknowledges the crowd after his first round at Royal Birkdale. Photograph:  Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Padraig Harrington acknowledges the crowd after his first round at Royal Birkdale. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

 

Pádraig Harrington’s day wasn’t too good on the golf course as he struggled to an opening round 73, three-over, in the 146th British Open at Royal Birkdale . . . . and it didn’t get any better after signing his card, as he got the tap on the shoulder to undergo a drug test and, dehydrated, it took over 45 minutes for him to produce a sample.

“It’s pretty standard. Drug tested my first day back this season, my first day back after injury I was drug tested, both Wednesdays late after the pro-am, and this would be my third. You normally have five a year. The fact I wouldn’t be playing in each area, they tend to come (for you), they’re random, but if you haven’t played for three months they come for you pretty quickly,” said Harrington, who won his second Claret Jug on this links in 2008.

With a stiff wind providing a challenge for players, Harrington never managed to get any momentum and a double bogey six on the 11th - where he put his tee shot into the drain that runs alongside the fairway - was followed by seven straight pars in a birdie-free round.

“I’ll be trying my hardest tomorrow regardless, I’ll be going out there trying and playing my game. Hopefully I get a bit of momentum in the round, there is certainly a good score (out there). It is not like you can go out there and force it either,” added Harrington.

Shane Lowry looked set to muscle his way in the right direction when he sank an 18-footer for birdie on the ninth to turn one-under, but he also ran up a double bogey on the homeward run, in his case on the 16th, and opened with a disappointing two-over 72.

Darren Clarke finished on five under while Rory McIlroy, among the later starters, was decidedly out of sorts as he dropped three shots in his first four holes.

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