McIlroy off to solid start at Experts, keeps Slam in sight

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) Rory McIlroy wanted to get off to a strong start at the Masters, his newest shot at a career Grand Throw.

Saving par in the final three holes in the starting round Thursday helped him maintain it in sight.

McIlroy chance a 3-under 69, breaking seventy in the first round at Augusta National for the first time since 2011. This individual shot a 65 that season and looked like he would win the green jacket before a final-round meltdown.

McIlroy mind into the second round Friday 3 shots behind Jordan Spieth , who produced five consecutive birdies on the back again nine to build a two-stroke business lead over Tony a2z Finau and Matt Kuchar .

” You view it and not anyone is really getting aside, ” McIlroy said. ” Michael jordan had a pretty strong finish generally there. But this is my best come from a few years. And, yeah, it’ t such a hard golf course to play catch-up on. If you start to chase this around here, that’ s when you begin to make mistakes.

” But to be right up there and also have the ability to stay patient because of the place I’ m in, that’ s i9000 a nice luxury I have over the following few days. ”

He is able to thank a few timely shots throughout the stretch.

McIlroy went under an 8-footer for par from No . 16, holed a capturing, downhill, 13-footer for par to the next green and then chipped to some couple feet to save another k?rester on 18.

” It’ s not always the birdies that stick out in your mind, ” McIlroy said, calling those shots the particular highlights of his round. ” Those three holes. Big just for momentum. I don’ t seem like I’ m going out trying to get individuals two shots or whatever back again (Friday) morning. I can just be tranquil going on to the first tee, not becoming too concerned about trying to get those birdies back. So , yeah, they were massive. ”

The first time McIlroy had a chance for the Grand Throw at the Masters, he opened 71-71 and found himself 12 photos back because Spieth ran aside with it.

” Certainly it was very benign for us being released in the last few holes, ” McIlroy mentioned. ” I’ m not amazed about (Spieth) at all. He enjoys this golf course. He plays properly around here. He always has. Plus he’ s going to be challenging to beat this week. ”

Some other items to know heading into the second circular of golf’ s first main:

TIGER TALES: Tiger Woods ‘ first Masters appearance since 2015 was a bit of a letdown – this individual shot a 73, leaving your pet seven shots off the lead – but the four-time Augusta champion was adamant that he’ s still hanging around.

Woods was motivated by two birdies coming down the particular stretch.

” I really could have easily let the round slide away from me, but I got it in return, ” he said. ” Plus I’ m right back in this competition. ”

Well, not really exactly.

Only 2 players have come back from 7 shots behind after the opening circular to capture the green coat. But one of them is Woods, which rallied from that daunting debt to beat Chris DiMarco within a playoff for his last Experts title in 2005.

” I fought hard to return in there, and I’ m in this championship, ” Woods was adamant. ” There’ s a lot of openings to be played. ”

TOUGH TONY: Tony Finau might not win the green jacket, yet there’ s no doubt he should get some sort of award for being the most difficult guy on the course.

One day after dislocating his remaining ankle while celebrating a hole-in-one during the Par 3 Contest – he literally popped it back directly into place right in the middle of the training course – Finau was only 2 shots off the lead after capturing a 68 in his Masters first.

” I take a look at myself as a mentally tough individual, and I think I showed that nowadays in my round, just able to place my head down and just play, ” he said.

At this point, it will be interesting to see how the ankle joint reacts after walking 18 openings in a round that took a lot more than five hours to complete.

” Hopefully I can get some much better rest tonight and elevate, glaciers, have fluid and hopefully feel a lot better, ” Finau said.

SERGIO’ S DEBACLE: For the 2nd straight year, it looks like the particular defending champion will have nothing to get this done weekend except hand out the eco-friendly jacket to someone else.

Sergio Garcia’ s hopes of the second straight title went upward in smoke – really a lot more like down the slope – at the fifteenth hole.

The Spaniard had five shots roll in to the water at the par-3 hole, resulting in a 13 that matched the best score in Masters history. This individual finished with an 81, which was the particular worst score ever for a protecting champ at Augusta National.

” I felt like the particular ball was going to stop, ” Garcia said. ” Unfortunately, for whatever reason, this didn’ t want to. ”

BIG NAMES: Phil Mickelson lamented a ” terrible putt” on No . 18 that could have got salvaged a better opening round. Lefty finished 2 under, the best rating among a host of big names plus pre-Masters favorites chasing Spieth.

World No . 1 Dustin Johnson was 1 over, 1 shot better than Justin Thomas plus two ahead of Jason Day .

Rickie Fowler was 2 under, plus Justin Increased was at even-par.

” I didn’ t capitalize on some putts that I’ ve been producing, ” Mickelson said. ” Yet what I did do well is I actually plotted my way around the course. I got in a reasonable score. ”