GOLF: Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell get off to solid starts

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy carded an even-par 71 in the opening round of the Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club.

The Holywood man failed to make the cut at last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and he sat five shots off the lead on day one in California.

McIlroy was playing with Tiger Woods, who was a shot further back after signing for a 72.

“I’ve hit good putts out there,’ McIlroy said.

“It’s not as if I’m hitting wide and missing by a few inches. It’s of just sliding by the edges. So it’s not too far off.”

And McIlroy remainsconvinced that Woods is still able to make an impact in the game in the coming months.

“It doesn’t feel like five years ago that Tiger won five tournaments and was the voted Player of the Year, so it’s not been that long,” McIlroy said.

“He remembers how to do this and his body’s allowing him to do this once more, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll make some noise this year.”

And Graeme McDowell emerged from the shadows as he opened with a two-under-par 69.

McDowell said: “The year’s got off to a slow start with a few missed cuts but I have been very positive about the way I am playing, really love what I am doing in practice.

“I feel like I am ready to have some big tournaments and some big weeks.

“It is just staying patient. You can’t force it.

“You can’t want it and you can’t need it. And I am trying to stay patient,” added McDowell.

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