Rory McIlroy put together one of his most consistent rounds of golf since the return of the PGA Tour to close out the opening day of the Travelers Championship tied for 2nd place.
Only a stellar showing from Mackenzie Hughes kept McIlroy from the top spot, with the Canadian posting a near-flawless 10-under 60 to take a three-shot lead into day two in Connecticut.
Hughes needed a birdie at the last to shoot 59, but the world number 158 left his putt short.
McIlroy struggled to make an impact in either of the previous two tournaments held since the tour’s resumption, failing to finish inside the top 30.
But the Northern Irishman looked every bit the world number one on Thursday, claiming an early eagle on the par-five 13th, his fourth hole, before hitting birdies at the 14th and 15th.
McIlroy also bounced back from a bogey on the par-three 16th with a further four birdies to end the day with a seven-under round of 63, putting him alongside American Xander Schauffele and Norway’s Viktor Hovland.
Irishman Shane Lowry posted a commendable four-under 66 to head into day two tied for 17th.
Meanwhile England’s Justin Rose and Ian Poulter both had mixed outings, finishing tied for 33rd with scores of 67.
The 26-year-old California native revealed he has stuck to a 3,500 calorie a day diet.
The American was forced to pull out of the Rocket Mortgage Classic.
The world number one has become frustrated by errors that have kept him out of contention.
Brendon Todd led the way after the third round of the Travelers Championship.
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The Northern Irishman shot seven-under 63.