Thursday, July 17, 2014




Rory McIlroy took full advantage of glorious conditions to lead after the first round of The Open Championship at Hoylake.
The year’s third Major Championship enjoyed a case of deja vu with glorious weather at Royal Liverpool and a certain Tiger Woods high on the leaderboard in the opening round.

But it was a man who was not present the last time the event was staged at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club venue in 2006 who shone the brightest, Rory McIlroy carding a flawless 66 to set the clubhouse target.

McIlroy continued his trend of getting off to flying starts in tournaments in 2014, firing birdies at the second, fifth and sixth to be out in 32 and adding more on the tenth, 12th and 16th.

At six under par he held a one-shot lead over Italian Matteo Manassero, whose compatriots Edoardo and Francesco Molinari were a shot further back alongside Sergio Garcia and American duo Jim Furyk and Brooks Koepka.

Woods, playing his first Major of the year after undergoing back surgery on March 31, was lurking ominously on three under par, the 38 year old only using his driver once, on the par-five 16th, as he did in 2006. On that occasion the driver was never used again on the rock-hard links.

The course was much greener this time around, but the ball was still bounding along the fairways and McIlroy was delighted to take advantage.

"Any time you shoot 66 at The Open Championship, you're going to be pleased," the 25 year old said. "We had perfect scoring conditions out there this morning. There wasn't much wind early on and there were plenty of opportunities to make birdies and I was able to take a few of them.

"It's another great start and, yeah, looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow."

That was a reference to his unfortunate habit of following good rounds on Thursday with bad ones of Friday, the latest example being scores of 64 and 78 in the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open last week.

"Whenever I go out and play on Thursdays there are not really many expectations," added McIlroy, who also led the 2010 Open after an opening 63 at St Andrews, but followed it with an 80 in atrocious conditions.

"You're going out there and you're trying to find a rhythm and you're just trying to play your way into the round," he added.

"When you go back out on Friday after a good score you know what you can do, so you're going out with some expectations compared to Thursday. I think I've just got to approach it like that, start off trying to hit solid shots the first few holes and play my way into the round, just like I did today."

Woods missed the cut in his comeback event at the end of last month and looked set for more woe after dropping shots on his first two holes - he only had two bogeys in the first 36 holes in 2006 - but crucially saved par from eight feet on the fourth and picked up his first birdie of the day on the next.

A hat-trick of birdies from the 11th - where he holed from off the green - was followed by a bogey on the 14th, but Woods responded with birdies on the 15th and 16th to return a 69.

"I knew I could do it. That's why it was so important for me to play at Congressional," he said. "At Congressional I made some terrible mistakes mentally. My decisions weren't very crisp and I wasn't decisive enough. Today was totally different and consequently I shot a better score.

"I'm getting stronger, I'm getting faster, I'm getting more explosive. The ball is starting to travel again and those are all positive things."

The Open 1RD
Today was a real struggle with poor shots on pretty much every hole and holed nothing on the greens.   I shot a horrible 79+7 which is incredibly disappointing but it is what it is.  I hit balls for a couple of hours working on a few things and hit it really good.
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