Rory McIlroy makes encouraging start in season opener in California

Rory McIlroy
McIlroy has dropped to number three in the world rankings Open first-round leaderboard:
-9 B Steele (US); -8 J Vegas (Ven); -7 M Laird (Sco), H Varner III (US); -6 J Thomas (US), D H Lee (S Kor); Selected others:-5 J Rose (Eng); -4 R McIlroy (NI); -3 G Owen (Eng)

Rory McIlroy made an encouraging start to the 2015-16 USPGA Tour season in his opening round at the Open.

The Northern Irishman, 26, shot a four-under-par 68 to sit five strokes off leader Brendan Steele in California.

"It was a pretty solid score and I'm in a good position going in to the next three days," four-time major winner McIlroy told the Golf Channel.

England's Justin Rose also put himself in contention with a five-under 67, while Scot Martin Laird is seven under.

McIlroy responded to an early bogey with two birdies on his outward nine before picking up three more shots after the turn at Silverado Country Club.

"I felt like I played pretty well," the world number three added.

"I got off to a bit of a slow start this morning but gradually got into the round and started hitting some better shots and giving myself plenty of chances.

"I want to have chances to win golf tournaments, that's really my focus until the end of the year."

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