Fatiha Betscher at Renaissance Club, Scotland.
It took Rory McIlroy just seven holes to stamp his presence with an eventual eight-under 64 in bright but windy conditions on the opening day of the Genesis Scottish Open.
McIlroy headed to a well-earned luncheon break close to fours-hours even after teeing-off with a six-under-par 64. The effort tied McIlroy with Belguim’s Thomas Detry at the then head of affairs.
His score a lowest PGA Tour first-round score since the 2022 Travelers Championship (62).
McIlroy teed-up a minute before 8am local time in the fifth group off the 10th tee of the host Renaissance course in great Scottish county of East Lothian.
There had been a longish introduction to McIlroy that had the four-time major winning waiting before stepping-up to tee to send a booming 374-yard opening drive down the left side of the par-5 hole.
McIlroy walked-off a handful of minutes later holing a near tap-in birdie putt to immediately go one-under. He made that two-under in holing another tap-in at the 12th, before moving to three-under in draining a near 20-footer at the next, the par-3 13th.
The current World No. 3 then joined then on-course leader Scotland’s David Law tied for the lead at four-under in holing a whopping 41-footer at the par-4 15th before taking the lead at five-under in birdieing the second of the three par-5s on the course, a six-footer at the 16th.
A 17th hole bogey checked McIlroy’s progress to be out in 31 while a clumsy bogey at the par-4 second hole where he had sent his drive right into whispery long grass.
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McIlroy brilliantly made amends by thoroughly delighting a huge following in holing his chip-in third shot for an eagle ‘3’ at the par-5 third hole.
Brilliantly back in the right direction at six-under and with six holes to play.
McIlroy moved to seven-under, and making it three-under for the three par 5s, in holing out from eight-feet at the par-4 fifth hole.
It would prove the high-water mark of his opening round with McIlroy ending with a string of four pars.
“I got off to a great start, a really fast start, 5-under through seven and holed a couple of really nice putts,” McIlroy reflected.
“Probably the one thing I was not worried about going into today. But more so like I was questioning, it didn’t feel like I had maybe had enough time to adjust to links greens, and I didn’t putt very well in the Pro-Am yesterday. But I got my eye in early and that was nice to see.”
Asked how this week can prepare him for a first visit to Hoylake since his Open victory march in 2014, McIlroy added.
“Yeah, very excited. I’ve only been back to I think one major venue that I’ve won season since, which was Kiawah back a couple years ago,” he said.
“Every time I see this, it gives me goosebumps. Yeah, it will be really cool. It will be really cool to go back there.
“So I think playing links golf this week as well, definitely just helps me get acclimatised to conditions and the grass type and everything else. There’s a lot of golf to be played before going down to Liverpool, and I want to play well the next three days.”