Star Watch: Rory McIlroy shoots sweet first-round 66

We won't see Justin Rose on the course until February. (Getty Images)
We won't see Justin Rose on the course until February. (Getty Images)

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I made the claim on Twitter to little friction that Rory McIlroy's best is better than everbody else's best. It certainly was on Thursday at the British Open.

McIlroy opened with a 6-under (bogey-free) 66 which leads after round one at Hoylake and it was shots like this that got him going all day:

McIlroy averaged a giggle-inducing 340.5 yards off the tee and was hitting short-to-middle irons into most of the par 5s in two.

Speaking of the par 5s, McIlroy played them in 3 under which is the number you probably need to be at every round (depending on the weather) if you want to win the Open this year.

"It was pretty stress-free, to be honest," McIlroy told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi after his round. The same cannot be said for McIlroy's life over the last two years.

This isn't totally surprising, though. McIlroy has been playing well all season and opened the Scottish Open last week with a course-record 64. 

Thursday's round was sort of reminiscent with his British Open-record opening round of 63 at St. Andrews back in 2010.

The problem? 


If McIlroy can somehow figure out how to hold things together -- unlike the 78 he followed up his 64 with at the Scottish Open -- he should be a strong position heading to the weekend at Hoylake.

Unfortunately for him (I think) nobody has bigger swings between making golf look easy and making golf look really, really difficult.

He hopes it will be more of the former on Friday.

"Maybe I'm putting a little too much pressure on myself," he said.

Also, this isn't a bad idea:

Other Stars

Sergio Garcia (4 under): Sergio got out hot with three birdies in his first five holes and shot a strong 68. He told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi how much fun he was having.

"I love everything about this major," Garcia said. "I love the course conditions and the history of it."

I bet he doesn't love the Sundays.

Jordan Spieth (1 under): Somehow Spieth finished 1 under after finding every bunker and most of the brush (thankfully not including this dog) on the front nine. That's the thing about The Kid, though. He's as tough as they come and won't go away quietly.

I don't know if this is the tournament for him but you can bet he'll make all the noise he can over the next few days.

Dustin Johnson (1 under): I expected more out of DJ, honestly. He played the par 5s in a shocking even par and only had two birdies overall. Solid, but he'll need better the rest of the week if he wants to contend.

Bubba Watson (4 over): There was a toad on the course during the afternoon on Thursday and I'm pretty sure it's the only creature Bubba Watson wasn't perturbed by. He shot a 42 on the back nine and it might be beacuse somebody was cutting ropes with scissors!

Phil Mickelson (2 over): Not the best day from Lefty but he did make a pretty great bogey after yanking one into the internal out of bounds area at No. 18. 

He also cursed.

Adam Scott (68): Scott was by far the best golfer in the afternoon group. He went out in 31 and looked like he might overtake McIlroy for the lead but had a bit of a disappointing 37 coming in. Still, he's not going anywhere. Scott will be there until the end.

For more golf news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnGolf and @KylePorterCBS on Twitter or Google+ and like us on Facebook.

CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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