Open 2014: Rory McIlroy leads as Tiger Woods makes solid start

By Rob HodgettsBBC Sport at Hoylake
McIlroy's round in 60 seconds
Open first round leaderboard
-6McIlroy (NI)
-5Manassero (Ita)
-4Koepka (US), E Molinari (Ita), F Molinari (Ita), Furyk (US), Garcia (Spa), Scott (Aus), Lowry (Ire)
Selected others-3 Woods (US); -1 Westwood (Eng); Par Rose (Eng), Stenson (Swe); +1 Donald (Eng), Kaymer (Ger), Mickelson (US), Poulter (Eng); +4 B Watson (US); +7 Els (SA)
Full leaderboardexternal-link

Rory McIlroy produced some majestic golf to set the pace on a glorious first day of the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

The 25-year-old shot a stunning six-under 66 to head Italy's Matteo Manassero, 21, by one stroke.

World number one Adam Scott, Spain's Sergio Garcia, Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari, Ireland's Shane Lowry and Americans Brooks Koepka and Jim Furyk were another shot further back.

Tiger Woods, who won at the Hoylake course the last time it staged the Open in 2006, fired a three-under 69 despite having played only one tournament since back surgery in March.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson took 74 and Justin Rose, winner of his last two tournaments including last week's Scottish Open, had an even-par 72.

World number two Henrik Stenson of Sweden also finished level, while US Open champion Martin Kaymer was one over.

BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter
"It was another excellent start from McIlroy who produced an imperious display of ball striking. The question now is whether he can replicate that standard in potentially more hostile weather and overcome his "freaky" Friday malaise. Woods surpassed a lot of expectations with his fine 69, but Adam Scott looks a real danger-man given his scoring in the most testing of the opening day conditions."

But, on a perfect day for scoring, the mercurial McIlroy, who won the PGA Championship at Wentworth in May, suggested he was in the mood to add to the US Open he won in 2011 and the US PGA the following year.

The Northern Irishman flourished in the morning sunshine and still air and fired a succession of towering irons into greens, stopping the ball near the pins almost at will.

His first birdie came at the par-four second where a 190-yard second shot landed yards away.

McIlroy began his Open challenge with a 66

He made further birdies at the fifth, sixth, 10th, 12th and 16th, and realistically could have had another handful.

"It was just a real solid round of golf," said McIlroy, who missed the cut at Muirfield last year and accused himself of being "brain dead". "I hit it into the spots I needed to and took my pars on the tougher holes."

However, McIlroy is mindful of a worrying tendency this season to following low opening rounds with poor second rounds on Fridays. At the Scottish Open he added a 78 to his opening 64 and he suffered a 15-shot reverse at Memorial as well as several other big swings.

"It's maybe having higher expectations on a Friday because you shot a low round. Hopefully I can turn it around," said McIlroy, whose best Open finish is tied third at St Andrews in 2010 despite following a record-equalling opening 63 with a round of 80.

Woods, who won the last of his 14 majors in 2008, began his first major of the year in ominous fashion after almost three months out convalescing from his back operation.

Rory McIlroy's 2014 implosions
Difference1st/2nd round scoresTournament
15 shots63/78The Memorial, May
14 shots64/78Scottish Open, July
7 shots63/70Desert Classic, January
7 shots69/76Wells Fargo, May

Bogeys at the two opening holes suggested the rust he displayed when missing the cut in his first tournament back at Congressional last month was still clinging to his ailing body.

But the former world number one fought back with a birdie at the long fifth and then went on a run reminiscent of his pomp with five birdies in six holes from the 11th.

"I felt good about a lot of things out there," he said. "Especially coming back from that start I had."

Scott, looking to atone for his late collapse at Royal Lytham two years ago and add a second major title to the 2013 Masters, crept to four under in a freshening afternoon breeze.

The Australian went out in 31, courtesy of two birdies and an eagle at the par-five fifth and swapped two birdies with two bogeys coming home.

Shot of day one from Matteo Manassero

Scott said: "It's important to keep pace with a guy like Rory. He has the potential to really put his foot down. I don't want him running away.

"It's pretty bunched at the moment but a full day of wind will sort the field out."

His playing partner Rose, another looking for a second major title, also struggled with two bogeys in his last seven holes.

Alongside Woods on three under was a large group including fellow Americans Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner, Jimmy Walker and Boo Weekley, Sweden's Robert Karlsson, Australian Marc Leishman and Japanese trio Hideki Matsuyama, Yoshinobu Tsukada and Koumei Oda.

The leading Englishmen were 24-year-old amateur Ashley Chesters at two under, the same score as top Scot Stephen Gallacher, while Rhys Enoch was the top Welshman at one over par.

Five-time champion Tom Watson, 64, English duo Luke Donald and Ian Poulter, 2001 winner David Duval and local favourite Tommy Fleetwood were among those to also card 73.

Macpherson's nightmare round
Australian Bryden Macpherson, 23, shot 90, the highest score in the Open since Thailand's Prayad Marksaeng carded 91 in terrible conditions at Carnoustie in 1999.World number one Adam Scott had some advice for his fellow countryman: "Tell him to have a couple of beers. That's all he can do. We have all had shockers at majors. I have."

Rose expects the conditions to be against him once again when he tees off on Friday morning.

He told BBC Sport: "I actually played some good golf. I felt in control through the turn and just ran out of steam. I've got a feeling the weather won't go my way but hopefully I can come out and make a score in the morning.

"I haven't been getting off to fast starts but at some point over 72 holes you have a slow period and maybe that's my first round and I can build some momentum."

Three-time winner Sir Nick Faldo, 59, the last Englishman to win the Open back in 1992, ended four over.

Liverpool factory worker John Singleton carded a six-over 78 to beat Ernie Els, the champion of two years ago, and 1999 winner Paul Lawrie by one shot.

Tiger Woods
Woods had a run of five birdies in six holes on the back nine
Rory McIlroy
McIlroy has never won the Open
Adam Scott
Along with Shane Lowry, Adam Scott was the only afternoon started to be within two shots of the lead
Sergio Garcia
Sergio Garcia carded five birdies and one bogey in his 68