Masters 2017: Happy Rory McIlroy fights back to keep dream alive
Rory McIlroy declared himself happy with his day's work at the US Masters after he battled back to a level-par opening round of 72 at Augusta National.
The World No.2 had a poor front nine, but three birdies and no dropped shots on the back nine brought him back towards the top of the leaderboard.
At times McIlroy needed his short game to bail him out, but time and time again he came up with an excellent shot to get him out of trouble.
But on his back nine he produced some excellent golf, rolling in birdies on the 13th, 15th and 16th on his way in as he searches for the final Major that would give him the Grand Slam.
"I'm really pleased with my day's work, I battled out there," the Holywood man said. "I didn't have my best stuff but I thought even par was a good score at the end of the day.
"I hit a couple of suspect chips on the front nine, but then I really got into it. The more I missed greens, the more I started to chip better.
"That gives me confidence going into the next three days knowing that part of my game is in good shape and it allows me to attack more pins and hopefully make more birdies."
However, all the opening round plaudits went to American Charley Hoffman, who produced a stunning round of seven-under par to hold a three shot lead at this early stage.
The 40-year old turned in two-under par and proceeded to rattle off four consecutive birdies from 14 to 17 as he dominated the famous course.
World No.1 Dustin Johnson was forced to withdraw from the tournament at the last minute due to the back injury he sustained on Wednesday.
Johnson slipped and fell down the stairs at his rental home, and tried to play the opening round, only to withdraw in pain on the first tee, much to his obvious disappointment.
"This is an event I look forward to every year, so to have a freak accident mean I can't play, it just sucks, it really does," Johnson lamented.