McIlroy back in the mix

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Rory McIlroy shot a two-under-par opening round of 68 at the St Jude Classic to find himself two shots off the lead.

Rory McIlroy shot a two-under-par opening round of 68 at the St Jude Classic to find himself two shots off the lead.

McIlory was originally scheduled to miss the Memphis event but having failed to make his last three cuts, the former world number one decided to get some extra practice in ahead of his US Open defence next week.

The Northern Irishman produced four birdies and two bogeys in a round in which his putter did most of the hard work.

“I felt like that was about the best round of golf I played in a while,” he said after his round. “It could have been a lot better.

“Off to a decent start, definitely. Lot of good signs out there,” he added. “I’m getting the club in a better position. From there you have a little bit of freedom.
“You’re not trying to protect against a bad shot. You’re trying to hit the shot you can see.”

McIlroy is two shots adrift of Americans John Merrick and John Maggert who carded four-under-par 66s.

Merrick, the 2006 champion at the event, looked set to enjoy the first round lead on his own, only to bogey the 18th to drop make down to join Maggert.

The 48-year-old managed three consecutive birdies from the 14th to 16th (which he was playing as his front nine) to set up a solid round that was highlighted by an eagle at the third.

The leaderboard is a congested one, with Americans Jeff Overton and J.J. Henry, together with India’s Arjun Atwal and Noh Seung-yul of South Korea three shots back.

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