Rory McIlroy admitted there was room for improvement but declared himself happy with an opening round of 68 that left him two shots off the lead at the St Jude Classic in Memphis.
McIlroy, who will defend his US Open title in San Francisco next week, only managed to hit half the greens and missed a good number of fairways too, but emerged still in contention and happy with the improvement shown as he came into this event having missed the cut at his previous three.
"I felt like that was about the best round of golf I played in a while," McIlroy told PGATour.com. "It could have been a lot better...The scoring doesn't look too good. I'm off to a decent start, definitely. Two-under is a decent start. Definitely so. There are lots of good signs out there."
McIlroy leaned on his putting to save the round, while he continued to make progress on his swing.
"I'm getting the club in a better position," he said. "From there you have a little bit of freedom. You're not trying to protect against a bad shot. You're trying to hit the shot you can see. Yeah. I still feel like it's improving but it's getting (better)."
Jeff Maggert and John Merrick shared the lead with rounds of 66, with Merrick left to a rue a bogey on the 18th that cost him first place outright.
Maggert, who eagled the third before mistakes on the fifth and eighth, enjoyed three straight birdies on the 14th, 15th and 16th to close in on Merrick.
Arjun Atwal, Jeff Overton, JJ Henry and rookie Seung-Yul Noh are one shot back at 67, while McIlroy was joined on 68 by Davis Love III, Robert Allenby, Padraig Harrington, Chad Campbell, Ken Duke, YE Yang, John Daly, Lee Janzen, JJ Killeen and Troy Kelly.