Eight birdies give McIlroy early lead in Scotland
Aberdeen, Scotland (SportsNetwork.com) - Rory McIlroy fired a course-record, 7-under 64 at Royal Aberdeen on Thursday and he holds a 1-shot lead after the first round of the Scottish Open.
McIlroy, who is seeking his seventh career win on the European Tour, made eight birdies on his round to take the early lead. His last win on tour came earlier this year at the BMW PGA Championship, where McIlroy shot a 9-under and edged out Shane Lowry by a shot.
The 25-year-old heads into the second round with a 1-shot lead over Kristoffer Broberg and Ricardo Gonzalez, both of whom shot 6-under 65s. Michael Hoey owns sole possession of fourth place after his first-round, 5-under 66 at Royal Aberdeen.
Luke Donald ended his first day three shots back of the lead at 4-under-par 67, and he is tied for fifth place with Marc Warren, Richard Bland and David Drysdale.
Defending Scottish Open champion Phil Mickelson is four shots back after his first-round 68. He is tied for ninth with David Howell, Russell Knox and Gary Stal.
McIlroy played his first five holes at 1-under, making birdies at two and five to go along with his lone bogey of the round at No. 4. The eighth-ranked player in the world then parred six and seven before beginning his birdie barrage.
The Northern Irishman poured in four straight birdies from No. 8, moving him to 5-under on the day. McIlroy made par at 12, and that got him to the par-4 13th hole.
With the green more than 430 yards away and the group ahead still putting, McIlroy bombed a drive right down the middle of the fairway. The ball ran down the fairway and up onto the green, 436 yards from the tee box.
McIlroy missed his eagle putt, but easily made his third birdie on the back nine. Another birdie at 14 put him at 7-under and he finished things off with four straight pars.
"Everything was pretty much on," McIlroy said. "I controlled my ball flight really well, which is the key to me playing well in these conditions and on these courses. I've been working the last 10 days on keeping the ball down, hitting easy shots and taking spin off it and I went out there today and really trusted what I practiced."
It was a windy day at Royal Aberdeen, but McIlroy was happy with the way he played.
"Going out this morning in these conditions I thought anything in the 60s would be a good score, so to shoot something better than that is pleasing," McIlroy said.
Now McIlroy will look to buckle down in hopes that he can keep his momentum going.
"I've got off to a lot of good starts and tended to fall away. Hopefully that won't be the case this week," he said. "It's more mental than anything, but I am really comfortable with my game at the minute."
NOTES: Francois Calmels (76) and Tom Lewis (70) both had a hole-in-one on Thursday. Calmels did it on No. 8, while Lewis made his on No. 17 ... Calmels withdrew from the event following his round ... Broberg and Donald were the only players to shoot bogey-free rounds.
07/10 16:35:59 ET