McIlroy leads at Royal Liverpool

European Tour

Rory McIlroy leads The Open Championship by one stroke after the opening round.

McIlroy took advantage of the still conditions to card three birdies on the front nine and another three on the back nine in his flawless six under 66.

The superb round put him one stroke ahead of Italian Matteo Mannasero. The 21-year-old continues to impress as he shot 67 at Hoylake.

“Any time you shoot 66 at the Open Championship, you’re going to be pleased,” said McIlroy.

“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. Whenever I go out and play on Thursdays there’s not really many expectations. You’re going out here and you’re trying to find a rhythm and you’re just trying to play your way into the round.

“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, and start off trying to hit solid shots the first few holes and play my way into the round, just like I did today.”

Two strokes back on four under are a whole host of players, including world number one Adam Scott, American duo Jim Furyk and Brooks Koepka as well as Sergio Garcia.

Playing in his first major since his back surgery, Tiger Woods recovered from a poor start to card a three under 69.

Meanwhile, defending champion Phil Mickelson was one under with eight to play, but some errand stroke-play saw him collapse to shoot a two over 74.

However, not everyone was able to take advantage of the conditions, with Masters winner Bubba Watson shooting a 76 and four time Major winner Ernie Els slipping back to seven over with a disappointing 79.

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