Ryan Fox leads Irish Open; Rory McIlroy 3 shots back

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Ryan Fox leads Irish Open; Rory McIlroy 3 shots back

Euro Tour

Ryan Fox leads Irish Open; Rory McIlroy 3 shots back

New Zealand’s Ryan Fox fired a 5-under 67 Thursday to grab the first-round lead at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open while Rory McIlroy returned an opening 70 at Ballyliffin.

Fox carded six birdies to build a one-shot lead over seven players, including Lee Westwood, Padraig Harrington and Danny Willett. Harrington eagled the par-5 17th hole to move within a shot of the lead entering Friday’s second round.

Fox, 31, earned a British Open berth last year at the Irish Open, and is again in position to do the same this year. The top three finishers on Sunday (who are not already exempt and are also in the top 10) earn tickets to 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,” Fox said. “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.”

Tournament host Rory McIlroy made four birdies and two bogeys in his opening round.

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