Lucas Herbert took advantage of an early tee time and immaculate conditions to post 64 and secure a one-shot lead after day one of the 2021 Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.
The Aussie, who started on the back-nine at Mount Juliet Estate, was even-par through five holes but then closed with three birdies on his final four to turn in 3 under. Herbert then added a pair of birdies on Nos. 3 and 5, before catching fire with a closing hat trick on 7, 8 and 9 to set the target at 8-under 64.
“Made a really long one on 18 for birdie and that kind of sparked things and got things going,” said Herbert, who claimed his maiden victory at the 2020 Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
“Was able to play really nice that last nine holes.
“I felt like I was trying to get to five or six under and I didn’t really want to try and just attack really, really hard.
“It was just try and hit the ball in the right spots, give yourself some looks on the greens and I felt like if I could get to five or six under that would be a really good day. A few more rolled in and I got to eight.
“It’s a little bit tight in spots as well where you’re not taking driver and just sending it. You have to play to some positions.
“Second group out we were, the greens were unbelievable. I can’t remember putting on greens that nice.”
Johannes Veerman shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 in the afternoon to sit one off the lead. The American was one clear of Scotland’s Grant Forrest, who rounded out the day-one medalists with a 66.
A 15-player logjam, headlined by former Ryder Cuppers Nicolas Colsaerts, Tommy Fleetwood, Martin Kaymer, Thorbjorn Olesen and Andy Sullivan, were 5-under par, a shot ahead of 18 more players tied on 4 under.
Defending champion John Catlin was then one further back on 3-under 69.
Home favorites Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy shot 70 and 72, respectively.
Graeme McDowell posted 74, two better than Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington, who struggled to an opening-round 76.
2021 DDF Irish Open
Round-1 Leaderboard: Top-10
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 1)
1. Lucas Herbert -8 (64)
2. Johannes Veerman -7 (65)
3. Grant Forrest -6 (66)
4. 15 Players Tied -5 (67)
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 1)
4. Tommy Fleetwood -5 (67)
4. Martin Kaymer -5 (67)
4. Thorbjorn Olesen -5 (67)
4. Andy Sullivan -5 (67)
4. Nicolas Colsaerts -5 (67)
37. John Catlin -3 (69)
57. Thomas Pieters -2 (70)
57. Shane Lowry -2 (70)
89. Rory McIlroy E (72)
89. Paul Dunne E (72)
89. Graeme McDowell +2 (74)
89. Eddie Pepperell +2 (74)
140. Padraig Harrington +4 (76)
Material from the European Tour Communications was used to compile this report.