Rory McIlroy finishes level par after mixed round during the first day of Masters in Augusta
Holywood's Rory McIlroy finished level par after the first day of the Masters in Augusta.
The 23-year-old managed a mixed round, bagging three early birdies on the front nine.
But he suffered with five bogies throughout the day, finishing his opening round on 72.
Meanwhile, Spain's Sergio Garcia claimed a share of the lead on the opening day of the 77th Masters.
Garcia carded six birdies and no bogeys in a flawless 66 at Augusta National, joining Australia's Marc Leishman at the top of the leaderboard on six under par.
It is the first time the Spanish star has led a major since the 2007 Open, when he was in front all four days but eventually lost out in a play-off to Padraig Harrington at Carnoustie.
The 33-year-old finished second in the US PGA Championship as a 19-year-old back in 1999 and has had 15 top-10 finishes in 57 major appearances, but after coming 12th here last year said: "I'm not good enough. In 13 years I've come to the conclusion that I need to play for second or third place."
"If I felt like I could win I would do it. Unfortunately at the moment, unless I get really lucky I can't really play much better than I played this week."
Speaking today, Garcia said: "It was one of those moments where you are a little frustrated. It probably came out wrong the way I said it. It doesn't change that every week I tee it up and try to play my best golf and give myself a chance to win."
American Dustin Johnson bogeyed the 17th to finish a shot behind on five under, while Matt Kuchar was also five under with three holes to play and Rory McIlroy one under with two holes remaining.
World number one Tiger Woods, seeking a fifth Green Jacket, carded a two-under-par 70, the same opening score which set up his victories in 1997, 2001 and 2002.
England's David Lynn, who described simply qualifying for the Masters as a dream come true, was among those two shots behind on four under, alongside Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Rickie Fowler, 2008 champion Trevor Immelman and 53-year-old 1992 winner Fred Couples.
Belfast Telegraph Digital