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Masters woe in past as Rory makes strong start

 

By Robert Jones

Rory McIlroy made an impressive return to action after his disappointment at The Masters last month with an opening-round 68 at the Wells Fargo Championship yesterday.

McIlroy, who is seeking a third tournament victory at Quail Hollow, was among the early finishers and shot a three-under-par round to leave himself in a good position for the weekend.

The Ulsterman is two shots off the lead held by American Keith Mitchell, who fired an impressive five-under-par 66, with England's Tyrrell Hatton a stroke back.

McIlroy, who started his round on the 10th, got off to a rapid start as he birdied his opening hole, a par-five, before gaining another shot at the par-four 12th.

Another birdie followed at the 15th, another par-five, however the Holywood man gave a shot back to the course at the tricky uphill par-four 18th.

Turning onto the front nine - his back nine for the day - McIlroy birdied the par-four second and, despite dropping a shot on the seventh, he again took advantage of the only par-five on the front nine to immediately get that stroke back at the eighth.

The World No.7 scrambled well to save par at the ninth, leaving him right in the mix after the opening day and in a good frame of mind at a course he knows well.

Compatriot Graeme McDowell is also in action, and he finished as he started after a solid opening round of level par, as did former World No.1 Tiger Woods.

Meanwhile, five bogeys saw Irishman Shane Lowry finish with a three-over-par opening round of 74.

"I would have taken 68 before I went out there and while my game felt a bit rusty in the Pro-Am and I didn't play that well, I spent some time on the range late (Wednesday) afternoon," Lowry said.

"I managed to find a couple of feelings and was able to take them straight onto the golf course and that was nice.

"The clubface of my driver was coming in just a touch left at impact, and then with the speed that I have it just accentuates it even more.

"So, I was really just trying to square the clubface at impact and trying to get that feeling of returning it to where it is at address instead of maybe releasing it too much.

"It meant I was able to hit the ball much better and drove it much better while the course is a lot easier then what it was last August for the PGA."

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