Rory McIlroy leads the Open field after day one

Rory McIlroy leads the field after day one at Hoylake
Rory McIlroy leads the field after day one at Hoylake
Join today

Rory McIlroy has a habit of starting fast at the majors and yet again on Thursday he came into the clubhouse with a lead.

The opening round at Hoylake was McIlroy's second best at an Open Championship. His best, a 63 on day one at St Andrews in 2010, preceded an 80 in round two.

It was a familiar upbeat opening-round feeling for Rory McIlroy as the Open Championship got underway at Hoylake on Thursday.

The Northern Irishman carded a faultless opening round 66 to establish a one-shot lead at a sun-drenched Royal Liverpool course.

McIlroy has been fast from the blocks in tournament play this season - leading in Scotland last week and at the Memorial Tournament in May. However, the term 'Freaky Friday' has been born after a string of poor second round performances.

Last week, he was 14 shots worse off in his second round while at the Memorial, a nine-under par opening salvo was followed up by a 78.

The opening round at Hoylake was McIlroy's second best at an Open Championship. His best, a 63 on day one at St Andrews in 2010, preceded an 80 in round two.

All eyes will be on the two-time major winner when he returns on Friday afternoon.

In truth, the opening round was largely played in benign conditions that were conducive to low scoring, with 48 players under par.

Behind leader McIlroy, a trio of Italians were taking advantage of the good conditions earlier in the day.

Matteo Manassero, silver medal winner at Turnberry in 2009, was the closest pursuer on five-under after three birdies in the final four holes.

Seven players are tied for third spot on four-under par, including the Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco - the latter thanks to an eagle three at the closing hole.

Joining them from the early starters were Americans Brooks Koepka and Jim Furyk, along with perennial Claret Jug contender Sergio Garcia.

Furyk and Garcia have fond memories of Hoylake, both having placed when the Open was last here in 2006.

The wind picked up slightly on Thursday afternoon as the exceptional scoring was somewhat stifled, but it was not enough to dent the chances of world number one Adam Scott.

The Aussie threatened to chase McIlroy down after reaching the turn in 31 shots, for four-under par, but two bogeys on the inward nine halted his march and he is two-shots back after day one.

Ireland's Shane Lowry put together a hugely impressive back nine late in the day -with five birdies - to join the group on four-under par.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson is back in the pack on two-over par after a frustrating day.

The left-hander pushed his second to the final green out of bounds and eventually made a very impressive up and down just to make bogey.

Tiger Woods drew much attention, as he played just his third competitive round in four months.

Opening with a pair of bogeys, it looked as if the task at hand was going to prove too much even for the 14-time major champion.

A run of five birdies in six holes from the 11th however propelled Woods into a very satisfying position on three-under par.

That was enough for him to sit in a tie for 10th overall, alongside the likes of Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker and Robert Karlsson.

Pre-tournament favourite Justin Rose was unable to sparkle on day one, labouring to a level par 72.

The English challenge was instead being led by amateur Ashley Chesters on two-under par. Lee Westwood managed a one-under 71, while Luke Donald and Ian Poulter are both one-over par.

Ernie Els, winner two years ago at Lytham, suffered a torturous day on the links. After his opening drive struck a spectator, the South African three-putted from two feet on the first green and that signalled the start of poor day.

Els is on course to miss the weekend after a 79.

Strong gusting winds are expected early in round two, with the afternoon players due to enjoy the best of the conditions.

The overnight leader McIlroy will have the gaze of the world on him, as he seeks to avoid that recent Friday feeling.

Join today

Discover the latest articles