Carton House know it faces a challenge when it hosts the Irish Open from June 27-30 next year.
Spotting Carton House chief Conor Mallaghan after his round, Padraig Harrington joked: “This is going to be a tough act to follow.”
But Mallaghan reckons the success of the Irish Open at Royal Portrush can only help the Co Kildare venue’s chances of staging a memorable event.
He said: “We are up for the challenge. I’m over the moon about what’s happening here. It would be even harder to host the Irish Open if we didn’t have this.
“The Irish Open is back as one of the great European Tour events again.”
Jim feeling ace
James Morrison saved himself a packet when he aced the signature 210-yard 14th - Calamity - and won a BMX X6 Coupé worth over €100,000.
The Englishman, 27, planned to buy the same car from Andrew Marshall who won one for an ace in Germany last week.
Morrison said: “When I see him in the clubhouse I can tell him he can keep his car. I’ve got my own.”
It was the first ace of Morrison’s pro career and he confessed: “I was a good five-iron into a crosswind. Sometimes when you make a hole-in-one you half-thin something that runs around the green.
“This was actually flush straight at the flag, one bounce and straight in the hole. It was lovely.”
It’s been a great few weeks for Morrison, who became a dad recently and qualified for his Open debut on Monday.
There was no prize for England’s Jamie Donaldson, who grabbed the second ace of the day when he holed a four-iron at the 181-yard sixth.
Daly wild about Portrush
“Wild Thing” John Daly is wild about Royal Portrush as a potential Open venue.
Thrilled by the crowds and the course, the 1995 Open champion opened with a 70 and said: “It really would be a great Open Championship here. It really would.
“I can see them changing nine and 10 into par fours and that should be brutal.”
Daly teed off in the first group at 7.30am and was amazed to see so many fans on the course.
He said: “It was unbelievable. We teed off on the 10th tee and when we got to 11 it was crazy, it was beautiful. It’s great.”
Breakfast of champions
Padraig Harrington was delighted with his start but his wife Caroline wasn’t so happy.
Forced to get up 4.30am to make his breafast, she joked: “It’s easier to get the kids out in the morning than Padraig.”
In case you’re wondering, three-time major winners have scrambled egg and wholemeal toast.