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McIlroy and G-Mac are within striking distance after fine start at Medinah


In zone: Rory McIlroy has put himself in a strong position
In zone: Rory McIlroy has put himself in a strong position

By Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell are well in the mix after the opening round of the BMW Championship.

McIlroy carded a three-under-par 69 at Medinah that included four birdies and one bogey, while McDowell also sits three-under after a round that contained an eagle, two birdies and one bogey.

Justin Thomas is the clubhouse leader on seven-under.

Meanwhile, course specialist Lee Slattery carded an opening 65 to lie a shot off the lead after the first round of the D+D Real Czech Masters.

Slattery, who finished second at Albatross Golf Resort in 2017 and fourth last year, fired an eagle and six birdies to finish seven-under par alongside South Africa's Erik van Rooyen.

Malaysia's Gavin Green held the lead on eight-under after carding eight birdies in the first 12 holes and recovering from a bogey on the 13th with a birdie on the last.

Green also carded a 64 in the first round last year and went on to finish third behind Italy's Andrea Pavan, who began the defence of his title with a 68.

Slattery is seeking a third European Tour title but was surprised to shoot such a good score after an indifferent start.

"I played the first four holes today so badly, I played them like a 15-handicapper," Slattery said. "It was a bit of a surprise to play that well on the back nine after not playing great on the front nine.

"It was quite wet out, it was like playing target golf. This place can get quite fast and fiery and it has been over the years but today it was a different golf course. It played quite long but you just throw darts at the pins."

• LISBURN'S Aaron Marshall was knocked out in the last-64 of the Boys' Amateur Championship yesterday after he was defeated by Austria's Christoph Bleier on the second extra hole at Saunton GC in Devon.

At the Girls' Amateur Championship at Panmure, Beth Coulter (Kirkistown Castle) was knocked out at the same stage, also on extra holes, by Lucie Malchirand of France.

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