Rory McIlroy had five birdies but a double-bogey at the seventh and three more dropped shots saw him card an even-par 72; Viktor Hovland, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka share the lead at seven under; Watch the second round exclusively live on Friday from 2pm on Sky Sports Golf
Last Updated: 07/04/23 1:56am
Rory McIlroy was left frustrated by an “untidy” opening round at The Masters that has him seven shots off the pace heading into Friday at Augusta National.
McIlroy has fallen foul of sluggish starts before at The Masters and has once again left himself an uphill task to turn things around after an even-par 72 on day one.
McIlroy carded five birdies in his round, but a double-bogey at the seventh proved costly, while there were further shots dropped at the third, 11th and 17th holes.
“It felt like a bit of a scramble all day, to be honest,” McIlroy told Sky Sports.
“I missed a couple of tee shots left and paid the price for that on seven and 17. I was just a little bit untidy in some other areas as well.
“I made enough birdies, I usually always do that, it’s just about keeping mistakes off the card. Today I didn’t quite do that.
“I salvaged an even-par round. There’s still 54 holes of golf left and a lot of things can happen.”
McIlroy, who was part of one of the last groups out on the course, admitted that the low scoring of Viktor Hovland and Jon Rahm from earlier in the day did play on his mind. They were ultimately joined by Brooks Koepka in a three-way tie for the lead at seven under.
With storms expected at Augusta over the coming days, it’s unlikely that scoring is going to be as easy as it proved for some on day one, but McIlroy is hoping he can get ahead of the weather with his earlier tee-off time on Friday and mount a charge up the leaderboard.
“You’ve got three guys at seven under on the leaderboard, so it’s hard to stay patient when you just want to try to get yourself in there,” McIlroy told the media after his opening round.
“I didn’t feel like I was too far away today. I’m probably two or three shots behind how I’d like to be, but nothing that’s not insurmountable.
“I’ve got a quick turnaround overnight and I’m looking forward to getting back on the course pretty quickly and obviously trying to get myself back in the thick of things.
“Hopefully we get some decent conditions in the morning and I can shoot something in the mid-60s and get myself back in the tournament.”
During his round, McIlroy rather surprisingly provided some incredible insight for viewers by speaking to the host broadcasters while playing the par-four ninth hole.
Asked how the opportunity came about, McIlroy said: “I thought it would be a cool thing to do.
“I did it in Austin [at the WGC Match Play] and didn’t feel like it took me out of my rhythm in any way or made me think about things too much.
“It’s nice to provide the audience at home a little bit more insight into what’s going on out here.”
Scheffler: I didn’t think about being defending champion
Reigning Masters champion Scottie Scheffler finds himself again in the mix with a solid four-under opening round of 68, though he did let a few gettable birdie opportunities get away during his round.
Asked whether it felt any different playing the golf course as the defending champion, Scheffler said: “I didn’t think about it really at all today.
“The only reason I would think of being the defending champion is because I was playing with [amateur] Sam Bennett.
“Just because I’m defending doesn’t mean I start any more under par. Starting at even, it was just about going out there and getting settled into the round, which I did a good job of.
“I got a lot of looks early, made some nice par putts there on six and seven, but didn’t see much go in the rest of the day.
“But four under is a solid start to the week.”
Davies: McIlroy hung in there
Dame Laura Davies on Sky Sports:
“The cream has risen to the top – you see major champions galore on that leaderboard.
“The three stars of the show obviously were Hovland, Rahm and Koepka, all three of them shooting beautiful 65s, all playing fantastic golf.
“I think Rahm’s though was the standout. He double-bogeyed the first with a four-putt, and then to come back like that. For me, he’s had the best day.
“For Rory, he hung in there. He fought for every shot, and level par – seven back – is not the end of the world.
“Scheffler was in cruise control today. Although he will be frustrated at missing a few putts, he knows how well he is playing and being three shots behind is absolutely nothing.”
Due to potential inclement weather on Friday, all starting times will be moved up 30 minutes and play will begin at 7.30am local time (12.30pm BST). Live coverage from the second round begins on Friday from 2pm on Sky Sports Golf!
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