Friday 21 October 2016

Rory patient as Spieth scorches ahead

Rory McIlroy declared himself satisfied with his opening round 71 to finish on one-under par on the opening day of the US Masters in Augusta.

McIlroy was happy to recover from one over par after 11 to record an opening 71 for the third time in three years, only to see Ryder Cup rival Jordan Spieth record a stunning 64.

''It could have been a round that got away from me,'' said McIlroy (left), who is looking to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in winning all four major titles.

"I just kept telling myself to stay patient, it's a 72-hole golf tournament and I don't need to press too much. It was good to get into red numbers.

"I haven't put too much pressure on myself. I obviously know what I can achieve this week but I'm not letting myself think about it too much."

Spieth is the youngest player to lead the Masters after the first round - surpassing McIlroy's record from 2011 - and would be the second youngest champion after Woods if he can go one better than 12 months ago, when he led by two shots after seven holes of the final round before finishing joint second behind Bubba Watson.

Spieth held a three-shot lead over Ernie Els, Justin Rose, Jason Day and Charley Hoffman, with defending champion Watson carding a 71, matched by 65-year-old Tom Watson.

Graeme McDowell was "reasonably pleased" with the 71 which earned him a share of 18th on one-under with McIlroy.

Shane Lowry shot a three-over par 75, while Padraig Harring had to settle for level par on his return to Augusta.


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