Not for the first time this season, Rory McIlroy started a tournament in brilliant fashion with a course-record 64 in the opening round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Now all the former world No 1 needs to do is avoid his ‘Friday curse’ to take another step towards a second European Tour title in four events and give himself a boost ahead of next week’s Open Championship.
Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg had established a new record of 65 at a windswept Royal Aberdeen after going out in the first group at 6.30am, but that lasted two hours as McIlroy carded eight birdies – including six in seven holes around the turn – and just one bogey.
The 25-year-old used the 20mph winds to his advantage in amazing fashion on the 13th, driving the green on the downhill 436-yard par four. But he was equally pleased by the controlled iron shots which went 50 yards less than usual after practice for links golf following his “lads holiday” in Ibiza paid off.
McIlroy said: “Everything was pretty much on. 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 and really trusted what I practised.”
McIlroy revealed he had also driven the 13th in Wednesday’s pro-am, although it probably still came as a shock to the group ahead who were still on the green – which included Ian Poulter. McIlroy said: “I told Poulter it was a 3-wood but it was a driver. He was on the green trying to flex his muscles.”
It is the fourth time in 13 events McIlroy has shot 64 or better in an opening round this season, but the two-time major winner has won none of those tournaments.
Matt Fitzpatrick shot a two-under-par 69, one ahead of fellow Sheffielder Danny Willett and two better than Simon Dyson, of Malton.