Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

McIlroy makes his mark

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

It was a day to remember for Rory McIlroy in The Masters - and one to forget for Padraig Harrington and world number one Martin Kaymer.

While they shot 77 and 78 respectively - Harrington nearly pulled out with neck trouble - 21-year-old McIlroy shone with a seven under par 65 and will go into the second round joint leader with big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros.

Two behind in third are Koreans YE Yang and KJ Choi, while Tiger Woods started with a 71 to be in a tie for 24th and defending champion and favourite Phil Mickelson with a 70 for joint 14th spot.

Despite some adventures three-time winner Mickelson, who made a late decision to drop a second driver from his bag, was heading for the only bogey-free round other than the one by McIlroy until he went into the crowd at the last and failed to get up and down.

Last man out Quiros, though, birdied the 18th to knock an amazing 10 strokes off his previous best score on the course.

Kaymer is heading for a fourth successive missed cut in the event and his 78 - the same as 1991 winner Ian Woosnam - represented a new low.

England's Ross Fisher shares seventh spot after a 69, but from two under after 14 Ian Poulter dropped four shots in the last four for a 74 - the same as US Open champion Graeme McDowell, who three-putted four times in six holes at the start of the back nine, and Scottish debutant Martin Laird.

Paul Casey had a 70, 53-year-old Sandy Lyle and Justin Rose 73s and Luke Donald, who carried the curse of winning the eve-of-tournament par three competition into the main event, returned a 72 including a birdie-eagle-birdie burst from the 14th.

McIlroy said: "It was not as explosive or as spectacular as St Andrews, but it was very solid and it's a great start.

"I'm still relatively inexperienced, but I feel I am pretty quick learner. There's no substitute for experience and I've still got a lot of learning to do, but I am getting there."

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