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late rally Rory McIlroy will ‘sleep a bit better’ after rallying to level-par 70 at Open

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Rory McIlroy reacts on the green of the eighth hole during Day One of The 149th Open at Royal St George’s Golf Club. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy reacts on the green of the eighth hole during Day One of The 149th Open at Royal St George’s Golf Club. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy reacts on the green of the eighth hole during Day One of The 149th Open at Royal St George’s Golf Club. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Getty Images

Two years after starting the Open Championship with a quadruple-bogey eight, Rory McIlroy began his first round at Royal St George’s with a birdie three.

And although the four-time major winner was unable to build on that ideal start, McIlroy was happy to battle back from a hat-trick of bogeys on the front nine to card a level-par 70.

It probably doesn’t make a huge difference at one over or even this early in the tournament, but mentally it feels a bit better to birdie the last and I’m looking forward to getting back out tomorrow,” McIlroy said.

“Tommy (Fleetwood) shot a great 67 which is probably the best of our wave in the afternoon. Benjamin Hebert shot 66 but was out a touch earlier than us.

“When we were warming up it felt like a nice breeze but when we got out there, especially out by the water, it was really windy. Anything around even par today was pretty good.

“After that little wobble on the front nine I set myself a little target of getting back to even par and I was able to achieve that and that feels good. I’ll probably sleep a bit better tonight and feel a bit better going into the second round.”

Asked about the difference between his opening hole at Royal Portrush in 2019 and today, McIlroy added: “No out of bounds on this first hole, it’s nice.

“One of the things I struggled with the last couple of weeks was the driver and to hit a tee shot like that down the first, 350 (yards) or whatever down the middle and then stuff a wedge close was the perfect start.

“I drove the ball way better than I have the last couple of weeks.”

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