Rory McIlroy struggles in Northern Trust as Russell Henley leads first round
Rory McIlroy struggled to a three-over-par opening round of 73 at the Northern Trust Open in New York on Thursday.
The 28-year-old, who decided to continue his bid for the overall FedEx Cup title despite a persistent rib injury, carded six bogeys and three birdies at Glen Oaks Club.
It left the four-time major winner well off the pace of first-round leader Russell Henley, who took the clubhouse lead after an opening six-under round of 64.
The American is one shot clear of world number one Dustin Johnson, who sank six birdies and a solitary bogey.
FedExCup points leader Hideki Matsuyama also struggled as he finished his first round one stroke worse than McIlroy on four over.
McIlroy carded a bogey five on the first hole before returning to par with a birdie on the second. He then repeated the pattern with bogeys on the fifth and seventh and birdies on the sixth and eight.
However, three more bogeys on the back nine - on the 10th, 13th and 17th holes - left him three over for the day.
McIlroy finished in a tie for 22nd in the US PGA Championship earlier this month which completed a third successive year without a major title, and the former world number one later said he was in two minds about competing again in 2017.
But after seeking the advice of sports scientist Steve McGregor in Northern Ireland, McIlroy was told he could not make the injury any worse and will try to win the overall FedEx Cup title - and USD 10million (£7.8million) bonus - for the second year in succession.
England's Justin Rose is on two under, along with US PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler while Jordan Speith is on one under.