GOLF: Rory McIlroy ‘really happy’ with Masters start

Rory McIlroy on the opening day of the Masters at Augusta. Pic by AP Photo.
Rory McIlroy on the opening day of the Masters at Augusta. Pic by AP Photo.

Rory McIlroy produced his best opening round at The Masters since 2011 to end day one on a three-under-par 69.

Northern Ireland’s McIlroy produced birdies across three of the four par-five holes at Augusta and finished his opening performance as “really happy”.

One talking point was a birdie on 13 when he recovered from landing in a greenside bunker with a second shot - calling it his “best up and down I’ve made all year”.

“I played a solid round, not many mistakes,” said McIlroy, who is chasing a career Grand Slam. “I birdied three of the four par fives, four birdies, one bogey overall and to shoot something in the 60s, I’m really happy with that.”

Jordan Spieth - the 2015 champion - finished as the overnight leader on a six-under 66, two shots clear of USA colleagues Tony Finau and Matt Kuchar.

It marked the third time in four years Spieth held that position of overnight leader after day one at the famous Augusta course.

Spieth described his round as “up there with the top three rounds I’ve played (at Augusta)”.

Sergio Garcia’s title defence effectively came to an embarrassing end as he took an amazing 13 shots to play the 15th hole.

Garcia dumped five balls into the water on the par five, where he made an eagle in last year’s final round, to record the highest score on the hole in tournament history.

The previous record was 11 shots, shared by Jumbo Ozaki, Ben Crenshaw and Ignacio Garrido.