McIlroy struggles in Houston

Rory McIlroy is nine shots behind leader DA Points after the first round of the Shell Houston Open.

Points carded an eight-under-par 64 to hold a one-shot lead over Cameron Tringale and John Rollins.

However, much of the talk on the day was of McIlroy whose round of 71 further highlighted his troubles.

The Northern Irishman’s round got off to a poor start with a bogey at the second and he was three over at the turn after double bogeying the eighth having found the water.

A run of three birdies in four holes after the turn gave McIlroy’s score some semblance of respectability, but with two further bogeys and just one birdie, a score of one over leaves him in a precarious position.

Despite this, the former world number one tried to search for positives.

“I kept in good spirits,” he said. “I didn’t get too down on myself. It would have been great to finish at even par.”

Points had no such problems, birding six of his first eight holes after starting on the back nine.

A bogey at the fifth was the lone blemish on the day, but birdies at seven and eight ensured Points remained one clear of compatriots Tringale and Rollins.

Jason Kokrak and former US Open and Masters champion Angel Cabrera are a further shot back on six under. Rounds of 67 see Jeff Overton, Brain Davis and Steve Wheatcroft share sixth spot.

Lee Westwood forms part of an eight-man group on four-under but the Englishman was left to rue finding the water at the eighth, errors that saw him bogey the hole.

“I must have the worst par fives of anyone this year,” he said. “It was like dropping four shots really. A 68 is as high has I could have shot.”