McIlroy gets in line
Rory McIlroy put himself in sight of the early leaders after completing his opening round of The 145th Open at Royal Troon and is nicely placed to kick on over the next three days.
Out in 32, home in 37, McIlroy’s mix and match round of 69 was made up of five birdies, a bogey, a double bogey, and 11 pars. It left him three strokes in arrears of America’s Patrick Reed, the early clubhouse leader, and two behind three of Reed’s countrymen – Steve Stricker, Billy Horschel and Justin Thomas.
In six of his eight appearances in The Open dating back to Carnoustie in 2007, McIlroy has had first rounds inside 70. Impressive as that is, it is spoilt somewhat by the fact he has only twice bettered 74 in the second round.
At Hoylake in 2014, when he spread-eagled the field to win The Open for the first time, the Northern Irishman had rounds of 66, 66, 68 and 71. He will be looking for similar inspiration now in his determination to make up for last year, when he was unable to defend his title at St Andrews because of injury.
“If someone would have given me a 69 on the 1st tee, I probably would have taken it,” he said. “But if somebody had given me that score on the 10th, I probably wouldn't have.
“I knew today was a day where you had to make the most of the conditions because I don't think we're going to see the course like this for the rest of the week. But it's the Open Championship and you know, coming in here, you're going to have to battle the elements.
“I think you're looking at something at around 8- or 10-under par that might win this tournament. I felt like I got off to a good start in trying to achieve that. I figured out how to play Open Championships a little bit more over the last few years and I feel like I'm more equipped to handle the elements. It's a good start.”
And his thoughts on the Postage Stamp, the par three 8th, where he got one of his five birdies?“It's great,” he said. “I think the best par threes in the world are all under 150 yards. No matter if it took me six shots to get out of the bunker (in practice) the other day and I made nine; it's a great golf hole.”