sport

McIlroy takes early Open lead

Rory McIlroy surged into an early lead at the Open Championship after shooting an opening round of 66 at Hoylake.

The Northern Irishman carded three birdies on the front nine and three more after the turn in a round which did not contain a single dropped shot.

It was McIlroy's second-best round ever at the tournament, being bettered only by his superb 63 on the first day at St Andrews four years ago.

"Any time you shoot 66 at the Open Championship, you're going to be pleased," McIlroy said.

"We had perfect scoring conditions out there this morning. There wasn't much wind early on and there were plenty of opportunities to make birdies and I was able to take a few of them.

"It's another great start and, yeah, looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.

"Whenever I go out and play on Thursdays there's not really many expectations. You're going out here and you're trying to find a rhythm and you're just trying to play your way into the round.

"When you go back out on Friday after a good score you know what you can do, so you're going out with some expectations compared to Thursday.

"I think I've just got to approach it like that, and start off trying to hit solid shots the first few holes and play my way into the round, just like I did today.

With the afternoon starters making their way out onto the course, McIlroy held a one shot lead over 21-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero, who went round the Royal Liverpool course in 67 strokes.

Two more Italians - brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari - were one shot further back after rounds of 68. Brooks Koepka, Jim Furyk and Sergio Garcia also ended their day on four under.

Tiger Woods also put his name among the early contenders for the Claret Jug, recovering from bogeying his first two holes to shoot a solid round of 69 in favourable conditions.

It was only the third competitive round of golf the 14-time major winner has played since undergoing back surgery in March.