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Rory McIlroy feeling 'really comfortable' as improvements show at AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

 

By Adam McKendry

Rory McIlroy is just three shots off the lead at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am after an opening round of 68 at Spyglass Hill.

McIlroy mixed six birdies with two bogeys to go into the clubhouse at four-under par, three behind overnight leaders Kevin Streelman and Beau Hossler.

It was a positive round for the Ulsterman, who looks to have brought his good form from the opening tournaments on the European Tour across the Atlantic to the PGA Tour.

Even more impressive was the fact that he brought it on the toughest track of the three course rotation, with rounds at Monterrey Peninsula and the iconic Pebble Beach still to follow.

This is the first time McIlroy has played in America for nearly five months, and his season debut showed that he's shaken off all his injury concerns from the off-season.

He calmly rolled in an eight-foot birdie putt on the par-five first to get off to the perfect start playing alongside the recognisable face of Phil Mickelson.

Despite then giving a shot back to the course at the sixth, McIlroy added birdies at seven and eight to turn at two-under, before rattling in further birdies on the 11th and 14th, both par fives.

The World No.8 dropped his second shot of the day at the 16th, much to his frustration, but his round ended on a positive note when he rolled in a birdie putt on the last to complete a solid 68.

"I was happy with my round, and anytime you can get it around Spyglass with a decent score you have to feel good as it is the tougher of the three courses," McIlroy said.

"I recovered well from a couple of messy holes coming in and in the end, I made a great bogey on 16, a great par on 17 and then it was nice to finish with a birdie.

"I'm scrambling well when I need to. I feel like I've made good strides with my putting over the off season. Driving the ball good. Everything - from when I spoke to you guys last until now, everything, I feel, has gotten better, which is a good thing.

"So, no, I feel really comfortable with it all."

Over on Pebble Beach, a promising start from Graeme McDowell at the site of his famous 2010 US Open triumph ended on a flat note as he finished on one-under par.

Sitting nicely at three-under without a dropped shot, Ulsterman McDowell came unstuck at the notoriously difficult par-three 17th where he carded an ugly double bogey five.

Shane Lowry, playing at Monterrey Peninsula, is alongside McIlroy at four-under par, while Seamus Power and Padraig Harrington finished on one-over and four-over respectively around the same course.

Sponsor's invite Paul Dunne equalled McDowell's round of one-under around the more testing Spyglass Hill.

Paul Casey was another recognisable name to get his round off to a good start as he opened with a five-under par 67 around Pebble Beach.

World No.1 Dustin Johnson is on the same score after a scintillating round at Spyglass Hill, with a former World No.1 in Jason Day, fresh off his first win of the season at Torrey Pines a couple of weeks ago, two shots further back after a three-under par 69 at the same course.

But it's Streelman and Hossler who lead the way after one round following their excellent opening rounds of 65. Streelman will be the happier of the two having played Spyglass Hill, while Hossler was at Pebble Beach.

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