Jeev in front after drama - Emirates24|7

Jeev in front after drama


Indian star Jeev Milkha Singh came within inches of registering an albatross before saving a miraculous par from the middle of a bush on his final hole to grab a share of the lead at the Irish Open on the opening day.

The Jumeirah Golf Estates-sponsored Singh sits on top of the leaderboard alongside Australia's Richard Green, with last year's runner-up Bradley Dredge, Sweden's Johan Edfors, Frenchman Michael Lorenzo-Vera and Germany's Marcel Siem two shots behind.

Defending champion Padraig Harrington carded a level par 72 to finish six off the pace after the first round.

Singh signed for a six-under-par 66, which was founded on a run of four birdies followed by an eagle on the 528-yard seventh hole, his 16th, where his second shot landed inside a foot of the hole.

The Indian ace looked set to give at least one of those shots back when his approach to the 631-yard ninth landed in the middle of greenside bushes.

But after checking with the referee that he would not break any rules in getting himself into an awkward position to play his chip, he almost holed out for a birdie. The ball ran more than 40 feet past the hole, but he sank the putt coming back to finish on a high.

Singh said: "After hitting into the bush, I was prepared for a double bogey seven. The referee told me the way to get in there without touching anything and the chip came out perfectly.

"I thought 'Okay. I can make six from here', but the putt looked good as soon as I rolled it and that was the story of my day, a lot of great up and downs."

Green, fourth in The Open last year, birdied four of his first seven holes and then, following a bogey at the start of the front nine grabbed three more birdies in his last five.

"I think the focus was pretty good, and that was the key," smiled Green.

Harrington was pleased with the way he performed in front of the huge crowds that followed himself, and said: "I suppose 72 doesn't look that good when you see six-under par leading, but it is a tough golf course."

Colin Montgomerie's woes continued with a 75 that will do little to boost the newly remarried Scot's chances of automatic qualification for Europe's Ryder Cup team to face the US in Kentucky in September. (AFP)