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Molinari leads Irish Open after record 63

  • Story Highlights
  • Italian Francesco Molinari leads the Irish Open after course record opening 63
  • Molinari holds one-stroke lead from Johan Edfors, who had 10 birdies in his 64
  • Home favorite Rory McIlroy recovers from a shaky start to post three-under 69
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(CNN) -- Italian Francesco Molinari leads the Irish Open after a course record opening round 63, on a day of high scoring at County Louth on Thursday.

Molinari matched his lowest-ever European Tour round with a course record 63 to lead the Irish Open.

Molinari matched his lowest-ever European Tour round with a course record 63 to lead the Irish Open.

Molinari grabbed an eagle and eight birdies in his nine-under-par 63, which matched the 26-year-old's lowest-ever European Tour round.

However, it only proved good enough for a one-stroke advantage over Sweden's Johan Edfors, who equalled the old Baltray course record with a 64 that included a remarkable 10 birdies.

"I enjoy links golf and I enjoyed it a lot today," Molinari told Press Association sport. "I played a lot of links golf as an amateur and it's just a matter of getting used to it again."

A group of seven golfers, including former British Open champion Paul Lawrie, are a further two strokes behind after carding 66s.

Meanwhile, leading home hope Rory McIlroy recovered from a poor start to card a three-under-par opening round 69.

The 20-year-old is earmarked as one of the stars of the future after his win in this year's Dubai Desert Classic but caused a stir this week when he said that claiming a place on the Ryder Cup team was "not a huge goal of mine."

McIlroy told the official European Tour Web site www.europeantour.com: "At the end of the day it's an exhibition and should be there to be enjoyed. But golf is an individual sport and my individual goals are to win tournaments for myself."

By a delicious irony, McIlroy was paired with European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie, who says that winning back the trophy from the Americans will be "the highlight of my career."

Montgomerie, who has missed two successive cuts, showed improved form to card a two-under 70.

Defending champion Richard Finch, who made headlines last year when he fell into a stream playing his approach shot to the 18th on the final day, could do no better than a 73, while Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell had a disappointing 77.

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