Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

British Open Notes: McIlroy Best among Fab Four after a 69

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

British Open Notes: McIlroy Best among Fab Four after a 69

Article excerpt

TROON, Scotland * Rory McIlroy was never more thrilled to be playing the British Open.

Thursday was his first round since he won the claret jug at Royal Liverpool two years ago because he had to sit out St. Andrews with an ankle injury. And finally, he was able to talk about his birdies all five of them instead of jabs at Olympic golf that caused such a stir earlier in the week.

"It's nice that the tournament started," McIlroy said after opening with a 2-under 69. "I think I said all I needed to say on that matter and hopefully I can go out tomorrow and play similar to the way I did today and get myself right into contention for another claret jug."

McIlroy gave away three shots, and a share of the early lead, with two sloppy holes on the back nine at Royal Troon. But in a procession of golf's Fab Four, he made the best of the ideal conditions along the Irish Sea.

Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and McIlroy were in separate groups separated by four tee times. Spieth was heard uttering rare words "I can't buy a putt" on his way to a 71, while Day made it three straight majors as the No. 1 player in which he failed to break par in the opening round. He had a 73. Johnson played in the easiest conditions and shot 71.

MCILROY's MISSION

The strong talk from McIlroy on the idea of Olympic golf helping to grow the game might have revealed a deeper state of his mind. He is fed up with watching others go to No. 1 and win majors, and there was a sense he was ready to do something about it.

He came out firing, and with a third straight birdie on the Postage Stamp par 3 at No. 8, he was 4 under and tied for the lead. That changed with a shot over the green, a poor chip and three putts for a double bogey on the 13th, and he was so angry that he dropped another shot on the 14th.

"I think if I would've stepped on the first tee and someone would have given me a 69, I probably would have taken it," McIlroy said.

The real test could be Friday with rain in the forecast. McIlroy, even with his roots in Northern Ireland, is not regarded as a player who thrives in bad weather. And he was six shots behind Phil Mickelson. His hope is that it clears out by the time he tees off in the afternoon. …

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