Jul 2nd, 2021
Herbert sets the pace at Mount Juliet
Australian goes low as McIlroy struggles at Irish Open
Photography: Getty Images
The 25-year-old already has one European Tour title to his name, having triumphed at the 2020 Omega Dubai Desert Classic in a breakthrough season which earned him a fourteenth place finish on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex.
Herbert carded an eight-under-par opening round at the sun-kissed Kilkenny venue to move to the summit, ahead of American Johannes Veerman who signed for a bogey-free seven-under 65 late in the day while Scot Grant Forrest is a shot further back on six under.
"I made a really long one on 18 for birdie and that kind of sparked things and got things going. Was able to play really nice that last nine holes," said Herbert.
"Felt like I was trying to get to 5- or 6-under and I didn't really want to try and just attack really, really hard."
Martin Kaymer and Nicolas Colsaerts, both of whom were central to Europe’s 2012 Ryder Cup triumph in the Miracle at Medinah, joined fellow former Ryder Cup players Tommy Fleetwood, Thorbjørn Olesen and Andy Sullivan, in a share of fourth place alongside nine others on five-under-par.
Colm Moriarty, a former Challenge Tour winner back in 2007, was the best of the homegrown players on four-under-par, while Open Champion Shane Lowry carded a two-under-par 70 and four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy opened his account with a 72.
McIlroy struggled for consistency in his opening round and had a difficult time on the greens carding three birdies and three bogies in his level par round. He will need to find some form if he is to make the weekend as the projected cut is two-under and may go lower.