Franceso Molinari put Baltray to the sword with a stunning course record 63 in a first round birdie bonanza at The 3 Irish Open.

The Italian, 26, wielded his putter like a stiletto dagger — single putting an amazing 11 times in a 25-putt round that featured an eagle, eight birdies and just one bogey.

But despite shaving a shot off the five year old course record, he was just one stroke clear of Swedish power player Johan Edfors, who had ten birdies and two bogeys in his 64.

Scot Paul Lawrie, Welshman Jamie Donaldson, England’s Nick Dougherty, Oliver Wilson and Robert Rock, India’s Shiv Kapur and Finn Roope Kakko all shot 66 on a day when the average score was 71.

Still waiting for his second win after taking the 2006 Italian Open, Molinari said: “I enjoy links golf and I enjoyed it a lot today. I played a lot of links golf as an amateur and it's just a matter of getting used to it again.

“Yesterday the wind was blowing really hard but today I could be a little more aggressive with the irons. I think I am playing much better than I was when I won the Italian Pen. So I hope it's coming soon."

Molinari was flying high after starting with an eagle at the first and an eagle three at the third, which was just one of 16 eagles at that 544-yard par-five.

But Padraig Harrington was left firmly rooted on the ground in more ways that one as the threat of high winds forced him to cancel the helicopter that was to take him to the course.

The Dubliner’s 16 minute commute was turned into a 90-minute drive, 50-mile drive and he failed to emerge from the doldrums with a 73 that leaves him in danger of missing the cut.

What will have hurt Harrington even more is that Baltray was left toothless by no more than a steady east wind and softened up by overnight rain that continued in the morning and became heavy in the afternoon.

Paul McGinley - named GB&I’s Seve Trophy skipper yesterday and the bookies’ favourite to captain Europe in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in 2014 - was not surprised that 89 players broke par and 108 shot par or better.

Frustrated by his 71, he said: “That’s what happens when you give top pros a soft golf course. When it’s A to B golf they will shoot the lights out but when it is fiery and fast and the ball goes from A to B and on to C, D, E and F it is a test.”

Even John Daly, who feared the worst after being buffeted by strong winds in practice, continued his run of form with a 68 that left him tied with Lee Westwood in joint 20th.

Unable to show off his green and white checked pants as heavy rain forced him to keep on his waterproofs, he said: “It was cold but the wind wasn’t so bad. It made it easier as the scores showed.

“I wouldn’t have broken par in three days of practice but today it was playing a little easier.”

Edfors is sponsored by The Dubliner chain of pubs in Scandinavia and he looked at home at Baltray as he holed 10 birdie putts with all of them from 10 feet or less.

Edfors said: “It seemed like every time I hit a good approach shot, I knocked it up really, really close. I got a lot of really easy birdies, and didn't actually hole a putt over ten feet all day.

“We don't play very many tournaments on links courses - I would like there to be a few more. I haven't played it that much in the past either, so I really enjoy it every time we get an opportunity to play on a links course.”

All but one of the seven players tied for third place had bogey free rounds but Rock was still happy to take a bogey at the 11th after notching just 24 putts.

He said: “I didn’t play very well but the putter was amazing really, every putt went in. I’ve not had a day like that ever. Who knows where they came from but it was good fun.”

It was also a happy day for Lawrie, who has banned from returning to Meldrum House club near his Aberdeen home this week after criticising its greens.

The 1999 Open champion confessed that he was “absolutely gob-smacked” to get a letter telling him to stay away from the club that made him an honorary member.

He said: “It's not going to bother me one little bit, as you can see today. It's not going to harm my career by one shot.

“When I got the letter I assumed it was a wind up, but unfortunately it wasn't.

“I obviously didn't want the situation to arise. The conversation I had with the greenkeeper was about 20 seconds. I asked him what was happening with the greens and he said 'What do you mean?'

“I said 'They're pretty bumpy, the ball is jumping all over the place'. He obviously took it the wrong way.

“I've had an unbelievable amount of texts. I know an awful lot of members and most of them have texted me or left a message with support, saying 'How poorly you've been treated and how we're all angry'.”

Sweden's Peter Hanson had a hole in one at the seventh.