Words by BGB Editorial
COUNTY ANTRIM, NI: Jordan Smith, Aaron Rai and Dean Burmester made the early running at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open on Thursday. The trio carded rounds of 65 to end the opening day tied for the lead at five-under par.

Smith has been one of the form players on tour since the return to action following lockdown, falling out of the top-40 on only three occasions in eight appearances.

Therefore it was of little surprise to see his name at the top of the leaderboard on the back of a flawless round at the testing Galgorm Spa & Golf Resort, where only 22 players managed to break par.

“It is all weather dependent. If it stays like this it is going to be a challenge for everyone including myself, so more of the same, more good golf, and see how it goes.”

Jordan Smith

“I am happy with today,” Smith said. “I need to go work on my driving a little bit and holing out but apart from that, very happy.

“It is all weather dependent. If it stays like this it is going to be a challenge for everyone including myself, so more of the same, more good golf, and see how it goes.”

Burmester took advantage of the more favourable early conditions to race to seven-under after 12 holes, but the South African was unable to get the hot run going, and fell back to five-under with a double at 17.

“For 16 holes, I played flawless golf pretty much,” said Burmester, who finished sixth at the English Championship. “I didn’t really miss a shot.

“A couple of great up and downs kept the momentum going and then unfortunately on 17 I fell asleep over a three-footer but other than that, honestly I played great.”

As did Englishman Rai, who picked up four birdies on the journey home to sign for a flawless card and move into a share of the lead.

Thailand’s Jazz Janewattanond carded a fine opening 68 to end day on in a tie for 10th position, just three shots of the leading trio.

Making a first appearance on Tour since the lockdown, the Asian Number One did most of his work on the back nine.

He rode the proverbial rollercoaster on the journey home, trading six birdies, with a bogey and a double at the par-four 13th.