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The Open 2010: Rory McIlroy fires in 63 to lead Open

The Open Championship, St Andrews, 15-18 July
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Rory McIlroy

The best of McIlroy's record round

By Rob Hodgetts
BBC Sport at St Andrews

Rory McIlroy left the world's best trailing in his wake as he scorched around the Old Course in 63 to lead after the first round of the 2010 Open at St Andrews.

The 21-year-old Northern Irishman lived up to his billing as one of the main contenders to lift the Claret Jug as he matched the best score in major history to finish nine under, two clear of South African Louis Oosthuizen.

American John Daly, the 1995 Open champion at St Andrews, rekindled former glories with a six-under 66 to share third alongside Scotland's former Ryder Cup star Andrew Coltart, England's Steven Tiley, Wales' Bradley Dredge and Peter Hanson of Sweden.

606: DEBATE

World number one Tiger Woods and third-ranked Lee Westwood ended five under alongside a group of players which also included defending US PGA champion YE Yang and 2009 US Open winner Lucas Glover.

Phil Mickelson, the world number two, struggled to a one-over 73 alongside Ireland's three-time major champion Padraig Harrington.

Woods's playing partner Justin Rose came into the tournament high on confidence after two recent wins in America and signed for a two-under 70, while 2002 Open champion Ernie Els took 69 and Graeme McDowell, who won his first major title at the US Open last month, shot 71.

McIlroy, who has never scored worse than 69 in eight previous rounds over the Old Course, took advantage of still morning conditions, which were in stark contrast to Wednesday's windy wash-out, to fire seven birdies and an eagle.

McIlroy - Course was there to be taken apart

"It gives me a little bit of a buffer going into the next three days, whatever weather comes our way," said McIlroy, who also squandered a makeable birdie chance on 17.

"I love St Andrews and I'm coming in here with a lot of great memories. If I had one course to play this would be it."

McIlroy, who won his maiden US PGA Tour title earlier this season, became the 22nd player to shoot 63 in a major championship and the first in the Open since Nick Faldo and Payne Stewart at Royal St George's in 1993.

Oosthuizen, 27, who won his first European Tour title in March, started three-and-a-half hours after McIlroy but still found conditions to his liking as he reached eight under before falling back on the 17th.

The 44-year-old Daly, who last won a tournament in 2004, admitted the Old Course brings out the best in him after going out in 31 in a stunning exhibition of driving.

"I feel my game is coming around. When I'm hitting my driver the way I am now it brings confidence," said the American.

Daly, who has battled weight problems, as well as gambling and alcohol addiction, has missed the cut in eight of the 12 Opens he has played in since winning at St Andrews 15 years ago.

But the 1991 US PGA champion said: "It's just a special place, it's my favourite course all over the world.

Low scoring at St Andrews surprises Woods

Woods, who dismissed speculation there is a rift with caddie Steve Williams after the Kiwi criticised his putting, began slowly as McIlroy and Daly were lighting up the course, but edged to as much as six under after 16 before missing a short putt par on the 17th.

"The art here is just letting the round mature," said the 14-time major champion who won the Open the last two times it was held at St Andrews in 2000 and 2005.

Woods spent five months out of the game at the beginning of the year after revelations of scandal in his private life but finished fourth in the two majors held so far this year.

"It's getting better every week," said the 34-year-old.

The afternoon starters encountered tougher conditions with a stiffening breeze and periodic heavy rain, making Westwood's round in particular all the more impressive.

"This morning was a piece of cake, you could kick it round in a decent score," said the Englishman, who is still struggling with a calf injury.

"I don't think I've ever known St Andrews as calm. We got unlucky with the weather but that's the nature of links golf. One half [of the draw] gets it good, the other doesn't."

Favourite trousers help confident Daly

Westwood is still chasing his maiden major title after finishing in the top three in three of the last four majors, including a tied third in the Open at Turnberry last year.

Another English player, Paul Casey, is well positioned on three under, with Woburn-pro Ian Poulter two shots further back.

However, it was not such a good day for Hertfordshire player Luke Donald who went round in 73 to leave himself on one over for the championship.

Meanwhile, the 60-year-old Tom Watson, who was second at St Andrews in 1984, could not recreate the heroics of 12 months ago when he finished runner-up as he chased a sixth Open title.

The eight-time major winner carded 73, while fellow American Stewart Cink, who shot down his dreams of becoming the oldest major champion, ended on two under.

Northern Irish golfer Rory McIlroy

The 2010 Open - Day one highlights



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see also
The Open day one - as it happened
15 Jul 10 |  Golf
McIlroy delighted at record round
15 Jul 10 |  Golf
The Open day one photos
15 Jul 10 |  Golf
Woods surprised by Open scoring
15 Jul 10 |  Golf
Open Championship R4 tee times
17 Jul 10 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
27 May 10 |  Golf


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