Date: May 16, 2008

Green shares lead in Ireland

Left-hander Richard Green has gained a share of the lead at the Irish Open with a blistering opening-round 66. The Australian is tied at the top with Indian Jeev Milkha Singh, who had an up-and-down day that went from having a near-albatross to tangling with a bush with one hand in his pocket and salvaging par with a 40-foot putt. Green is playing his first event since missing the cut at Augusta, but has been practising hard at home in Melbourne and it showed with four birdies in his first seven holes and then three more in the last five to finish at six-under-par. Fourth in last year&aposs Open at Carnoustie after a brilliant closing 64, the 37-year-old commented: “I concentrated on concentrating hard and it worked out pretty well.” Singh, one of three Asian players invited to the Masters at Augusta last month, hit a three-wood to a foot on the seventh for his eagle, but found the bushes behind the green with his pitch to the 631-yard ninth “The first thing was to get a ref to make sure I didn&apost break any rules,” the former Volvo Masters champion explained. “You can&apost touch anything and that&aposs why I put my hand in my pocket and took it out when I had to grip the club.” “My backswing was about a foot and a half and I was more worried about just hitting the ball. It could have gone anywhere.” It was the sort of rescue act that Colin Montgomerie and defending champion Padraig Harrington were unable to produce. The former, whose 88th position on the world rankings represents his lowest standing in the game since 1990, managed only a 75 after running up a double-bogey seven on the 528-yard seventh. Harrington, meanwhile, returned a 72 that included a bogey six on the long 18th after he hooked his drive into the River Maigue. Australians Marcus Fraser and Peter O&aposMalley are tied for 10th place at two-under, with Scott Strange among a large group of players a further shot back. Matthew Millar fired a one-over 73, and New Zealander Mark Brown is at two-over. Aussie Peter Fowler and Kiwi Gareth Paddison had days they&aposd rather forget, and sit at nine-over and 11-over respectively. Singh, son of an Olympic running star, has already finished second twice on the European Tour this season, losing a play-off to Graeme McDowell in Korea a week after a freak accident when his caddie drove a golf cart into a palm tree. “I never thought that carts could be that dangerous. I went flying, banging my head against the windscreen and bouncing out,” he said. First Round Scores from the Irish Open, Ireland -6: Richard Green (Australia) 66, Jeev Singh 66 -4: Bradley Dredge 68, Johan Edfors 68, Michael Lorenzo-Vera 68, Marcel Siem 68 -3: SSP Chowrasia 69, Lee James 69, Alvaro Velasco 69 -2: Marcus Fraser (Australia) 70, Soren Kjeldsen 70, Pablo Larrazabal 70, Rory McIlroy 70, Eduardo Molinari 70, Peter O Malley (Australia) 70 -1: Felipe Aguilar 71, Richard Finch 71, Alastair Forsyth 71, Robert Karlsson 71, Simon Khan 71 Also: -1: Scott Strange (Australia) 71 +1: Matthew Millar (Australia) 73 +2: Mark Brown (New Zealand) 74 +9: Peter Fowler (Australia) 81 +11: Gareth Paddison (New Zealand) 83