Floren Sets Pace in Irish Open

Sweden's Oscar Floren fired a 6-under 66 to take the 18-hole lead at the Irish Open. The European Tour event is taking place at Carton House Golf Club in County Kildare.

Beginning on the 10th tee, the 29-year-old Floren - who's never won on the European Tour - carded four birdies and an eagle on the short par-4 13th (his fourth hole of the day) for a one-shot lead over Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey, the Netherlands' Joost Luiten, American Peter Uihlein, France's Jean-Baptiste Gonnet, and local favorite Shane Lowry.

Floren was pleased with his start and hope it bodes more success the rest of the tournament. "I played great today. It was nice to get off good start today. I hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens, and eventually a few putts are going to drop," he told reporters.

"Mentally, I've changed a bit and put in the work, doing the smart things every day. After March/April, I changed things and it's been paying off. I've been in form the last few weeks, I finished well in Germany, but I played well in St. Omer and Austria the first two rounds as well."

Lowry also began the round on the 10th hole and promptly bogeyed it. But, after two straight pars, he birdied four of the final six holes on his front nine before adding two more birdies on the back.

Lowry, the popular winner of the 2009 Irish Open as an amateur, is playing what he considers virtually his home course. "It would seem like there should be more pressure on me this week, but I'm looking at it as an advantage. I play this course week-in, week-out and know it like the back of my hand."

Two of the pre-tournament favorites, Ulstermen Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy, carded 71 and 74, respectively. Also shooting 71 was three-time major winner, Padraig Harrington, of Ireland.

McIlroy wasn't too happy about his opening round. "No aspects of my game are standing out or are strong. I feel a little lost at the moment," he said.

"I've just got to play and keep trying to shoot good scores," added McIlroy who, despite his woes this season, is still ranked No. 2 in the world behind Tiger Woods. "If anything, playing in front of (the home fans) should be a little boost."

For all the scores, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2013/tournamentid=2013050/leaderboard/index.html.