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Jet lagged McIlroy eager to improve

Rory McIlroy got the defence of his Australian Open title under way with a two-under-par 69 that leaves him just two shots behind first round leader Jordan Spieth.

World number one McIlroy, who edged out rival and home hope Adam Scott on the 72nd hole last year, was slightly off the pace on a cool and overcast morning at the Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

He was level par for his opening nine holes, where his birdie at the 14th was immediately given back at the next hole, but improved after the turn.

The 25-year-old birdied the first and picked up further shots at the fifth and ninth, in-between his second bogey of the day at the seventh.

McIlroy admitted he feels he can improve as the week goes on and revealed he is still adjusting to the time difference.

"I feel like there's a better score out there for me," he said in quotes on the PGA Tour of Australasia's Twitter account.

"I'm feeling a bit jet lagged."

Spieth set the early pace, with a round of six birdies and two bogeys giving him a 67 which puts him a shot clear at the head of a leaderboard dominated by Australian players.

Home hopes Scott Gardiner and Aron Price were three under, with McIlroy among seven players on two under.

Australians Adam Crawford, Geoff Drakeford, Richard Green and Andrew Tampion carded 69s, as did Japan's Achi Sato and Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge.

Scott lies seven shots off the pace after an opening round 74.

The 34-year-old from Adelaide started with a double bogey and dropped three further shots on the front nine, before rallying with birdies on the 12th and 14th.

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