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Rory roars while Spieth soars

Irishman McIlroy confident after strong Masters opening day sees him just four shots behind defending champion and current leader Jordan of USA

Augusta: Rory McIlroy had mixed emotions after finishing the opening day of the Masters four shots behind defending champion Jordan Spieth.

US golfer Jordan Spieth putts on the 16th hole during Round One of the 80th Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club yesterday. pics/AFP
US golfer Jordan Spieth putts on the 16th hole during Round One of the 80th Masters at the Augusta National Golf Club yesterday. pics/AFP

An eagle on the 13th helped McIlroy reach four under par with three holes to play in tough conditions at Augusta National, only for the four-time major winner to three-putt the 16th and also bogey the last after his approach plugged in a greenside bunker.

However, the resulting 70 was still McIlroy’s second best opening round in eight appearances and represented an improvement on last year, when a 71 left him seven behind Spieth.

Rory McIlroy celebrates a birdie on the seventh green
Rory McIlroy celebrates a birdie on the seventh green

“If someone had given me a 70 for the first day I probably would have taken it," said McIlroy, who needs to win a first green jacket to complete the career grand slam.

“The conditions were tough. They were tricky and it was tough to hole putts. The par threes were tough but I played the par fives my way.

“I was a bit disappointed with the finish and the loose shot on 18, but I just need to go out there tomorrow and try and get those two shots back as quick as I can and then stick to my game plan, which is to take advantage of the par fives. If I can do that, I won’t be too far away at the end of the week.

“It was one of my better starts at Augusta. I am in the top 10 (tied ninth). It would have been nice to have been a couple of shots better but I think 70 in those conditions was pretty good.”

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