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Rory McIlroy makes steady start as Jon Rahm shoots a 62

 

Unspectacular: Rory McIlroy
Unspectacular: Rory McIlroy
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Rory McIlroy shot a one-under par opening round 71 at Torrey Pines to sit nine shots off the early lead at the Farmers Insurance Open in California.

In a largely uneventful round for the Ulsterman, McIlroy carded just two birdies and a single bogey around the trickier South Course at the infamous San Diego golf complex.

It leaves him a long way behind early leader Jon Rahm, who sits on 10-under after a scintillating performance on the easier North Course at Torrey Pines, which McIlroy will play in his second round today.

As a result, the nine-shot deficit is probably a bit misleading, and World No.8 McIlroy will aim to cut that gap considerably when he takes to the North Course.

However, he will need to improve drastically on his first round performance, which saw him have several looks at birdie but take just two of them.

Chances came and went on three of the first four holes before a birdie putt finally dropped on the par-four fifth, however he never seemed to kick on from that, missing a six-footer for birdie on the ninth.

It looked like he'd finish on a sour note with a bogey on 16, but he instead finished with a flourish by birdieing the 18th.

Meanwhile, Rahm leads the way after he shot a record-breaking round of 62 around the easier North Course.

The European Ryder Cup star, who won the Irish Open at Portstewart in 2017, carded two eagles on his way to a 10-under par round, the lowest recorded score on the North since its renovation.

That has Rahm one shot ahead of World No.1 Justin Rose and American youngster Doug Ghim after the opening day.

Former Open champion Jordan Spieth shot seven-under par on the North Course, while Jason Day and defending Irish Open champion Russell Knox are among a large group on five-under.

Tiger Woods, playing the South Course, went round in a one-under par 71 in his first competitive appearance of 2019, while Seamus Power struggled to a four-over 76 on the North Course.

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