McIlroy pleased with flying start

European Tour

Rory McIlroy opened with a superb course-record 64 in the first round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open on Thursday.

McIlroy’s sparkling seven-under-par round featured eight birdies and just a single bogey, and was good enough for a one-shot lead over Swede Kristoffer Broberg and Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzales, who at 304 and 350 in the world rankings respectively surprised with their opening rounds.

A win this week would set McIlroy up perfectly for next week’s Open Championship, and the Northern Irishman admitted he was feeling good about his game.

Not only did he use the wind to his advantage to drive the green on the downhill 436-yard par-four 13th, his iron play throughout the round was superbly controlled.

“Everything was pretty much on. I controlled my ball flight really well which is the key to me playing well in these conditions and on these courses.

“I’ve been working the last 10 days on keeping the ball down, hitting easy shots and taking spin off it and I went out there today and really trusted what I practised.”

On his drive at the 13th, McIlroy said: “I’m driving the ball really well and I feel if I can get driver in my hand and have an advantage on the field I should do it.

“Going out this morning in these conditions I thought anything in the 60s would be a good score so to shoot something better than that is pleasing.

“I told Poulter it was a 3-wood but it was a driver. He was on the green trying to flex his muscles.”

McIlroy has frequently started superbly in 2014, however, only to fall off in later rounds, so he knows the job is far from done.

“I’ve got off to a lot of good starts and tended to fall away. Hopefully that won’t be the case this week,” he added.

“It’s more mental than anything but I am really comfortable with my game at the minute.”

Behind the surprise duo in second place, McIlroy’s countryman Michael Hoey lies alone in fourth on five under, while two Scots and two Englishmen – Marc Warren and David Drysdale, and Luke Donald and Richard Bland – follow on four under.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson opened with a 68 to lie on three under and was satisfied with his start.

“The conditions were tough and I was surprised to see some of those low scores,” he said. “But I feel like I played well and had a good putting day until the last. It’s a good first day.”

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