Rory McIlroy started the Open Championship with an encouraging two-under-par 69 in Thursday’s first round at Royal Troon.
The 2014 champion surged to four under on the front nine before dropping two shots on the back nine – he finished the day three behind clubhouse leader Patrick Reed.
“It was good, a solid start – I was able to make a run of birdies on the front nine,” said McIlroy.
The Holywood golfer picked up shots at four, six, seven and eight to move into a tie for the lead.
The world number four – who missed last year’s tournament because of an ankle injury – slipped back on the tougher back nine.
A double-bogey at the 13th was followed by another dropped shot at the next hole but McIlroy recovered with a birdie at 15.
“You really needed to make hay on the front nine and after a slow start I was able to do that,” added the four-time major winner.
“The double-bogey was disappointing and that affected by tee shot at the next but I was able to bounce back at the 15th.”
Meanwhile, Padraig Harrington carded a 71, one better than Darren Clarke while Shane Lowry struggled to a 78.
Paul Dunne also had a disappointing start on the Scottish links with a 77 while Portrush player Graeme McDowell is among the afternoon starters.