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Rory McIlroy described St Andrews as “fiddly”, something he claimed hasn’t been his forte. Not that you’d know it based on Thursday’s evidence.

On an Old Course defined by bone-dry, fiery conditions, the four-time major winner got off to a near-perfect start with an opening 66.

Eight years since he won his last major crown, this could be his best chance yet to finally end the drought.

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“I did everything you’re supposed to do round St Andrews,” McIlroy said after his round, which included eight birdies and just a solitary bogey.

“I came in here playing well, and I’ve played this golf course well over the years.

“I knew if I went out there and stuck to my gameplan something like this was possible.”

Possible indeed, and subsequently achieved. McIlroy lies just two off the pace set by Cameron Young.

It marks the third successive major where he has put himself firmly in the mix, and having not converted at either the US PGA or the US Open, McIlroy is aiming to ensure it is third time lucky.

“I need to go out tomorrow and back up what I just did today,” he said.

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“I think that’s important to do. But again, this golf course isn’t going to change that much, I don’t think, between today and tomorrow in terms of conditions.

“I’ve seen the golf course now in tournament play and tournament conditions and know what to expect. Tomorrow’s an important run, just to go out and back up what I’ve done today.


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