Singh fires the birdies but McIlroy tweets the loudest

KILLARNEY, Ireland, (Reuters) – Jeev Milkha Singh  eclipsed the big names in yesterday’s Irish Open first round with  an exhilarating eight-under 63, but the Indian player’s feats  failed to overshadow U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy was embroiled in a furious spat with former European  tour professional, American radio and television commentator Jay  Townsend, after the Northern Irishman double-bogeyed the 18th  hole for an often error-strewn round of 70.

The pair’s row on Twitter proved to be the talking point of  the day.

Townsend tweeted: “McIlroy’s course management was shocking.  Some of the worst course management I have ever seen beyond  under-10 boys’ golf competition.”

McIlroy quickly replied: “Shut up … you’re a commentator  and a failed golfer, your opinion means nothing!”

Later, McIlroy revealed that he and Townsend had been at  loggerheads for three years. Neither would back down on their  tweets.

Townsend’s comments came after McIlroy dunked his ball into  the lake on the last when trying to make the green from a  fairway bunker.

The 22-year-old Northern Irishman blamed rustiness on  several misguided tee shots and indecision with his shot-making,  admitting that fairway bunker play was not exactly his strong  suit.

The U.S. Open champion trails Singh by seven strokes and the  other three crowd-pullers also followed in the leader’s wake.

British Open champion Darren Clarke was the best of the  quartet of major champions that drew massive crowds to Killarney  with a 69. Last year’s U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell carded  a modest 72 and three-times major champion Padraig Harrington a  73.

   ON THE FENCE

After boosting his round with two birdies in the last three  holes, Clarke preferred to stay on the fence about the  McIlroy-Townsend controversy. “I respect Jay as a commentator  and Rory is entitled to his opinion,” Clarke said.

Leader Singh is delighted that he has battled back from back  and shoulder injuries last year that threatened his career,  resulting in him plummeting out of the world’s top 50 to his  current 209th placing.

A hot putter earned him a 30ft eagle and six birdies on an  unblemished card.

“I’ve been doing a lot of yoga, stretching and meditation  and I hope I’m on the way back,” Singh, with 18 wins worldwide,  told reporters. “I was in the top 50 for three, four years, and  I’ve been feeling a bit left out.”

Singh is two shots clear of surprise contender  French rookie Alexandre Kaleka. New Zealander Michael  Campbell, the 2005 U.S. Open champion, Germany’s Marcel Siem and  Swede Christian Nilsson are a further stroke back in third  place.

Campbell continued his recent resurgence of form, picking up  five shots in the last five holes for his 66.

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