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McIlroy shows there is life after long-time caddie JP

By Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy declared himself satisfied with the first page of a new chapter in his career after an opening 67 in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron.

The Ulsterman carded five birdies and two bogeys at Firestone Country Club to finish three under par alongside playing partner and Open champion Jordan Spieth, two shots behind Ryder Cup partner Thomas Pieters.

Scotland's Russell Knox was a shot off the lead after a 66, with McIlroy and Spieth sharing third with Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson, Ross Fisher and Kevin Kisner.

McIlroy was playing his first round since splitting from long-time caddie JP Fitzgerald, with whom he won all four of his Majors to date.

Harry Diamond, the best man at McIlroy's wedding and a former top amateur player in his own right, has replaced Fitzgerald on the bag and although it remains to be seen if the relationship will become permanent, McIlroy joked on Wednesday that "if we have a good fortnight, you never know".

"It was good," McIlroy said. "I'm taking a little bit more responsibility on myself and there were a couple of times where I probably should have hit another club, but that's on me, not anyone else.

"I'd much rather be frustrated at my own decision than someone else's.

"It's great to have my best mate on the bag and we're just having a good time.

"It was strange the first couple of holes but I stuck to it today and played pretty well."

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