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Rory McIlroy is unflustered by minor errors in opening round of Wells Fargo title defence after three-week break


Bumpy start: Rory McIlroy is defending his crown in Maryland. Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Bumpy start: Rory McIlroy is defending his crown in Maryland. Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Getty Images

Bumpy start: Rory McIlroy is defending his crown in Maryland. Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy admitted he was expecting some mistakes on his return to action on the PGA Tour, leaving him happy with an opening round of three-under at the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s a strange week for McIlroy, who is back to try and retain the crown he won last year at Quail Hollow but at a different course, with this year’s event played at TPC Potomac in Maryland as the usual host venue is being used for the Presidents Cup.

Despite the change of venue, the World No.7 started strongly with seven birdies, but two bogeys and a double-bogey dropped him back, leaving him four shots off leader Jason Day at the close of day one.

With McIlroy having not played since The Masters, where he finished second, he conceded he wasn’t anticipating the perfect performance in Maryland and he was satisfied with what he produced on day one, even with some frustrating errors.

“I think first week back after three weeks off, there’s maybe going to be a couple of mistakes in there,” said the 33-year-old.

“The three-putt on 17 was an unforced error. I mean, 11’s a tough hole, I got a bit of a flyer from the semi-rough and made bogey, but you sort of accept that and deal with that.

“Then I should have made five on No.6. I hit it in the water, but got a drop up there and so I left a couple out there. The three-putt there, if I hadn’t made five. I’m still pretty happy with 67. It could have been a 65 or a 64, but it’s still a good start.”

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McIlroy, who started at the 10th, took seven holes to record his first par as five birdies and a bogey got him off to a fast start, but he would drop back courtesy of a bogey at 17 and then a double-bogey at the par-four fourth after finding the water off the tee.

But the most pleasing part was his bounce back from that setback, back-to-back birdies at the next two holes getting him back to three-under and within touching distance of the early lead.

“I said to myself walking off the (fourth) green, if I could just get back to three-under for the day by the end of the day after that, I would be pretty happy, and obviously I did that within the next two holes,” he added.

“I had some chances coming in but, yeah, happy with the day. Over the course of a tournament, you’re going to think about shots that you could have held onto, but I think at the end of the week it all sort of evens out. I can’t be too disappointed.”

Meanwhile, Olivia Mehaffey is two shots off the lead at the Ladies European Tour after the opening round of the Communicad de Madrid Ladies Open.

The Tandragee woman shot a three-under 69 in the Spanish capital to trail Swedes Jessica Karlsson and Maja Stark, as well as France’s Agathe Sauzon, by a pair after they carded five-under 67s to lead by one.

Elsewhere, it was a rough opening day at the Betfred British Masters for Jonathan Caldwell and Cormac Sharvin, who are both unlikely to make the cut at the Belfry.

Clandeboye’s Caldwell had back-to-back birdies in his final two holes to thank for saving face after six bogeys and a double-bogey led to a five-over 77, with Sharvin carding eight bogeys and a double in a nine-over 81.

As it stands, the cut is level-par, with Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen and New Zealand’s Ryan Fox leading at six-under.

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