A day after telling punters they would be better off backing him for the Open Championship rather than this week, Padraig Harrington carded his lowest round in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch.

Making his 24th consecutive appearance in the event, Harrington recorded eight birdies and a solitary bogey to establish a new course record of 63 and enjoy a two-shot lead at the top of a crowded leaderboard.

Eddie Pepperell marked his return from a seven-week injury-lay-off with a 65 to share second place with compatriot Lee Slattery, Thorbjorn Olesen, Wade Ormsby, Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Hyowon Park, with Lee Westwood, Shane Lowry, Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter part of a large group on four under.

A broken wrist at the end of last year kept Harrington out of action until March and the three-time major champion started the week ranked 291st in the world after missing the cut in three of his last four events.

"You couldn't have asked for more to be honest," he told RTÉ Sport afterward.

"The crowds were buzzing out there, the weather was great, obviously getting out there and shooting a low one... it seemed easy enough to do it.

"The conditions were tough enough this afternoon, a lot of crosswinds, but I was just in that sort of mindset. Myself and Poults were strolling around having a chat most of the day, we were quite relaxed about it.

"We'd a nice buzz from the crowd. It just seemed pretty easy. I got a few breaks out there there's no doubt about it, but 63 was a reasonably easy return at the end of the day."

Lorenzo-Vera had earlier shrugged off the embarrassment of suffering a dreaded shank to post a five-under-par 65 as he chases a first European Tour title in the €6.2m event.

"I am a little bit ashamed of this one but I shanked one on 11, the par 3, like proper shank into huge rough," Lorenzo-Vera admitted. "I didn't shank a golf shot for five or six years in a tournament, so that was a bit strange.

"After those kinds of shots you laugh, and I was just trying to make a good bogey there, hit it to around 15 metres and got the bonus to hole the putt.

"I just went to the next tee with a big smile and bombed one down the middle and birdied the next two holes, so that was a big turning point."

Slattery has missed the cut in 10 of his 13 European Tour events this season, including the last six in succession.

But he raced to the turn in 30 thanks to four birdies in a row from the sixth, and then bounced back from a bogey on the 10th with further gains on the 13th and 16th.

"I'm in a good position in the sense that I've not played particularly great so far this year, and I've also not played as many tournaments as I would usually," Slattery said.

"I've not played much golf because I've not played the weekend that much so I feel fairly fresh.

"But I've just been very unfortunate, missing a lot of cuts by a shot. There has to be a time in the season where you turn it around, especially as hard as I work."

Scotland's Russell Knox is four shots off the lead after beginning the defence of his title with a 67, which was matched by playing partner Tommy Fleetwood and 2017 champion Jon Rahm, but Graeme McDowell struggled to a 72.