Rory McIlroy went to five under after just 12 holes to share the lead in the first round of the British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf club on Thursday.
The early clubhouse lead was set at five under 67 by rising Italian star Matteo Manassero.
The Molinari brothers, Edoardo and Francesco, also of Italy and Brooks Koepka of the US were a stroke further back after carding 68s.
Edoardo, the older of the two Italian Ryder Cup players, said that getting off to a solid start was vital at Hoylake this week.
“It’s always important any week,” said Eduoardo. “But I think with the [bad] weather coming in for the next few days, it was very important to shoot a good number today [Thursday].
“You can play a little bit more defensively if you need in the next few days.”
On three under 69 were Robert Karlsson of Sweden, Marc Leishman of Australia and Japan’s Koumei Oda.
The low scoring was made possible by the picture-perfect playing conditions at Hoylake that greeted the early starters among the 156-strong field.
The opportunity to go low was not lost either on Tiger Woods, playing in just his second tournament since undergoing back surgery in late March.
The 38-year-old American, who won at Hoylake the last time the Open was held there in 2006, bogeyed his first two holes, but three straight birdies from the 11th saw him move to two under and put a visible spring in his step.
Out on the course, American starlet Rickie Fowler moved to four under with a birdie at the 12th and he was joined on that mark by Spain’s Sergio Garcia with a birdie at the 13th.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson, world number one Adam Scott, top home hope Justin Rose and US Open champion Martin Kaymer all had afternoon tee-times.
Most of the early focus, however in what is the 143rd edition of golf’s oldest and most prestigious tournament was firmly fixed on ‘fit-again’ Woods.
The player who has dominated world golf over the last 17 years with 14 major wins came into Hoylake at a crucial juncture in his stupendous career.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2014.
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