Zander Lombard is one shot off the lead at the Irish Open following a stunning 6-under par 64 in the first round of the Irish Open at the Lahinch Golf Club, writes JOHN GOLIATH.
Lombard will start the second round on Friday one shot adrift of leader and local favourite Padraig Harrington.
The new European Ryder Cup captain entertained the Irish fans with eight birdies, including a fantastic up-and-down out of the bunker at the 18th hole to finish on a seven-under par score of 63.
Lombard made seven birdies during the first round, including three in a row through 16 to 18. He only had one blemish on the card when he dropped a shot at No 2.
Brandon Stone, who won the 2018 Scottish Open following a stunning 60 in the final round, is also well placed to add another Rolex Series title to his résumé after he carded a three-under 67.
Stone is tied for 18th at the moment following a steady outing, which included four birdies. The only blemish on his card came at the par-four 7th.
Stone was joined on three-under by fellow South African Jacques Kruyswijk, who cancelled out a disastrous double-bogey on the 10th with a spectacular eagle on the par-five 18th.
Kruyswijk, who is looking to book his spot at the Open Championship with a good finish at Lahinch, also made three birdies on the day. The South African will be hoping to get his first top-10 finish of the year after finishing T11 at the Volvo China Open in May.
Big-hitting South African Haydn Porteous also enjoyed a good day out and finished with a score of two-under par 68 after the first round.
However, fellow countryman Louis Oosthuizen had a bit of a rollercoaster ride in the first round after finishing with a one-over par 71. Oosthuizen made four birdies, but spoiled his card with five dropped shots on the day.
Of the other 12 South Africans who started the first round, only Erik van Rooyen, Dean Burmester, George Coetzee and Justin Walters managed get through the 18 holes at even par.