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Seven birdies, including five in a row in the second half of his round, hoist 2018 champion Rory McIlroy to the top of the standings early on opening day at Bay Hill in Orlando.

Last updated: 04/03/21 19:21 pm

Rory McIlroy opened with a stunning 66 at Bay Hill

Rory McIlroy had his best round of golf this year taking the lead at the start of day one of the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

After initially struggling to get momentum in his round, McIlroy came to life with five straight birdies out of the top nine and looked sharper in all departments as he climbed to the top of the standings with six cents, one in front of Bryson DeChambeau.

Bay Hill’s layout has been softened by recent rains, conditions playing in the hands of powerful players, and McIlroy took advantage of his length and precision off the tee to comfortably overtake Tyrrell Hatton and Francesco Molinari in the marquee squad. of the last. three champions.

Hatton only birdied one on a 77 and Molinari was a worse shot after losing three shots in the last two holes, but McIlroy ignored his playing partners’ struggles and selected the top nine in a ruthless style.

After starting on the 10, McIlroy failed to birdie one of the par-fives in the back, but he did roll in 15-foot birdie putts at the two par-threes before a poorly valued corner in the 18th was short and he could not fend off his first scarecrow of the day.

Rory McIlroy birdie blitz takes first-round lead over Bryson DeChambeau at Arnold Palmer Invitational |  Golf news

McIlroy had five consecutive birdies in the second half of his round

It was a familiar ‘two steps forward and one back’ story for the 2018 winner, but he found the spark he needed to spark his candidacy for a first win in 15 months, putting up a gigantic putt 55-footer for a bonus birdie to the runner-up who, had he missed the hole, would have slipped at least six feet past the cut.

McIlroy atoned for another below par in the third by drilling from the outside 22 feet, his decision to revert to a traditional blade-style putter at The Concession last week starting to look justified as he played with it. more authority and confidence.

The world No.8 found the par-five fourth and sixth greens in two to set up routine birdies with two putts either side of another win in the fifth, and McIlroy suddenly stared at the pitch with DeChambeau emerging as its closest rival to the first wave of starters.

More soon …

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