Padraig Harrington best of the Irish at Portugal Masters

It has been a largely positive day for the Irish involved at the Portugal Masters.

Padraig Harrington shot a four-under par opening round of 67 to end the day three-shots off the lead.

Late birdies at 14 and 18 saw Shane Lowry end the day on two-under.

The lead at Vilamoura is held jointly by Joost Luiten and George Coetzee, both men are seven-under par after rounds of 64 today.

Harrington told Sky Sports: "I'm pleased with it. I worked my way around the golf course very well.

"It was not my best ball-striking round but I didn't get myself in trouble all day."

Padraig Harrington plays a shot from the 14th fairway during the first round of the Portugal Masters today. Pic: Getty

Luiten carded seven birdies in his bogey-free round in Vilamoura which was matched by the South African.

"It was a tough week last week for me, missing the cut by one, but the good thing about golf is there's always next week," five-time European Tour winner Luiten said.

"I knew my game wasn't far off and it's good that today showed I'm getting in the right shape.

"I struggled a little bit with my old driver so I got a new TaylorMade driver with a slightly bigger head and lower ball flight, more forgiving in the wind hopefully, and that really helped me. I hit it lovely today and hopefully can keep it going.

"If you hit the fairways on this course you can be aggressive into the greens, they're quite soft, so that was a good game plan."

In contrast to Luiten, Coetzee finished joint third in Holland and admitted thoughts of the European Tour's first 59 crossed his mind after carding six birdies in his first eight holes at a low-scoring venue.

"I read an article yesterday about the '59 watch' and after eight holes I was thinking if I birdie the next and the next and the next, but I guess I shot myself in the foot a little bit with that," Coetzee joked.

"You get a feeling if you can get off to a hot start you could maybe have a go at it but in the end I wasn't even close.

"Last week I was always slow out of the blocks, the front nine didn't really suit my game, but this week I started like a house on fire and thought I should do this more often."

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