Playing in extremely cold conditions, SSP Chawrasia managed to do well to card one-over 73 with two birdies in last three holes of the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on Friday.

Chawrasia was tied 52nd. In the afternoon, the weather turned nice and sunny from cold, damp and windy in the morning.

Chawrasia had a bogey on second and sixth and a double on seventh. His only birdie till then was on fifth. But from the eighth, he was steady and played pars till the par-16th, which he birdied. He birdied again on par-5 18th to finish at one-over 73.

“It was very cold and damp in the morning and we had to wear two sets of clothes, and also had warmers,” said Chawrasia.

“But in afternoon, it all changed. By the time I came for some putting practice after my round and lunch, it was nice and sunny. I practiced in just my T-shirt.”

As for the round, he said, “The double bogey came from the fairway and that was costly. But it felt nice to have birdies on 16th and 18th. It gives me a chance in second round to make up.”

Masters Tournament champion Danny Willett made a superb return to European Tour action as he posted an opening round of 65 to take a two-shot lead over Rory McIlroy.

Willett took a month-long break after winning his first Major Championship at Augusta National in April, but showed no signs of rust at the K Club as he reached seven under and opened up a gap on the tournament host.

Willett’s Green Jacket triumph was his second win of the campaign, following victory in Dubai, but McIlroy has also been in sparkling form with five top-10 finishes in his five appearances so far, although he has missed the cut at this event in the last three years.

Willett mixed eight birdies with a bogey, whilst McIlroy also only dropped the one shot in his round of 67.

Callum Shinkwin and Jaco Van Zyl shared third place on four under par, one shot clear of defending champion Soren Kjeldsen, two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer and Ross Fisher, who all signed for rounds of 69.



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