SPORTS

Rory McIlroy seeks elusive home win at soggy Irish Open

  • Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy with his caddy J.P. Fitzgerald on the fourth green during day one of the Irish Open golf tournament at The K Club, Straffran, County Kildare, Ireland, Thursday May 19, 2016. Tournament host Rory McIlroy, who started later in milder afternoon conditions at Ireland’s K Club resort, is seeking his first season victory. But the Northern Ireland native and world’s No. 3-ranked player has rarely fared well at his home tournament, missing the cut for the past three years. (Brian Lawless/PA via AP)  UNITED KINGDOM OUT

    Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy with his caddy J.P. Fitzgerald on the fourth green during day one of the Irish Open golf tournament at The K Club, Straffran, County Kildare, Ireland, Thursday May 19, 2016. Tournament host Rory McIlroy, who started later in milder afternoon conditions at Ireland’s K Club resort, is seeking his first season victory. But the Northern Ireland native and world’s No. 3-ranked player has rarely fared well at his home tournament, missing the cut for the past three years. (Brian Lawless/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT  (The Associated Press)

  • England's Ross Fisher on the 15th tee during day one of the Irish Open golf tournament at The K Club, Straffran, County Kildare, Ireland, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Ross Fisher and Martin Kaymer share the early Irish Open lead with opening rounds of 3-under 69. (Brian Lawless/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT

    England's Ross Fisher on the 15th tee during day one of the Irish Open golf tournament at The K Club, Straffran, County Kildare, Ireland, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Ross Fisher and Martin Kaymer share the early Irish Open lead with opening rounds of 3-under 69. (Brian Lawless/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT  (The Associated Press)

  • England's Danny Willett tees off on the 7th during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare, Ireland, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Masters champion Danny Willett struck an opening round of 7-under 65 in the Irish Open to take a two-shot lead Thursday over home favorite Rory McIlroy. Willett continued his impressive form barely a month after the 28-year-old Englishman won his first major title at Augusta. He hit eight birdies and dropped his only shot on the 17th when his par-saving putt stopped on the edge of the cup. (Brian Lawless/PA via AP)    UNITED KINGDOM OUT       -      NO SALES      -      NO ARCHIVES

    England's Danny Willett tees off on the 7th during day one of the Irish Open at The K Club, County Kildare, Ireland, Thursday, May 19, 2016. Masters champion Danny Willett struck an opening round of 7-under 65 in the Irish Open to take a two-shot lead Thursday over home favorite Rory McIlroy. Willett continued his impressive form barely a month after the 28-year-old Englishman won his first major title at Augusta. He hit eight birdies and dropped his only shot on the 17th when his par-saving putt stopped on the edge of the cup. (Brian Lawless/PA via AP) UNITED KINGDOM OUT - NO SALES - NO ARCHIVES  (The Associated Press)

England's Ross Fisher and Germany's Martin Kaymer played through heavy morning rains Thursday as they shared the early Irish Open lead with opening rounds of 3-under 69.

Tournament host Rory McIlroy, the world's No. 3-ranked player, was starting later in milder afternoon conditions at Ireland's K Club resort. Seeking his first victory of the season, the Northern Ireland native has rarely fared well at this tournament, missing the cut for the past three years.

Many early starters struggled amid chilly, blustery downpours, with only nine golfers in the 78-strong morning field finishing under par at the 7,350-yard (6,719-meter) Arnold Palmer-designed course.

The K Club in County Kildare west of Dublin is hosting a top tournament for the first time since Europe routed the United States in the 2006 Ryder Cup.