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'Ecstatic' McIlroy roars into Open contention

21 Juillet 2017

"If it's an afternoon round and the other side has already played the morning, that's when it's tough".

McIlroy has twice been sidelined this season with a rib injury suffered during extensive equipment testing over the winter, meaning he has played just 10 events despite the late addition of the Scottish Open to his schedule. "I didn't get angry out there at all". The last nine majors have all been won by a different name, going back to Jordan Spieth's back-to-back victories at the Masters and US Open in 2015.

Clubhouse leader Kuchar's one-over-par round of 71, in gusty winds at Royal Birkdale, was only slightly soured by his final hole slip-up, and with rain and stronger winds expected later, his rivals will have to produce outstanding golf to maintain their one-stroke advantage.

The hairline rib fracture he suffered in January during the South African Open is no longer an issue, but it forced him to sit out almost two months, and then he played only once in two months between the Masters and the U.S. Open in part because it was acting up. So I kept a good, positive attitude and it turned around for me.

Defending champion Stenson, who beat Phil Mickelson in an epic final-day duel at Royal Troon a year ago, has vowed to add skydiving to his Claret Jug escapades, which include taking the trophy jet-skiing, should he win again. "The wind was blowing pretty good and I'm not trying to overpower this golf course".

"I love links golf".

With the breeze switching nearly 180 degrees to a south-easterly even an increase in speed to 20mph was not an issue as it offered plenty of assistance, especially to the tough opening hole which was third-hardest on the opening day.

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"So much imagination that goes into it".

He looked a forlorn figure when another wayward tee shot at the eighth finished in thick rough, but he holed a superb 20-foot putt to save par and looked close to his best after the turn as he finally got a birdie on his card at the 11th. It's not just a stock shot like it is in America. It only makes you want to do that even more.

There have been back-to-back major winners - Mark O'Meara won the Masters and Open in 1998; and consecutive Open champions - Harrington won in 2007 and 2008, Tom Watson won his second straight Open at Birkdale in 1983, Lee Trevino won the first of two successive Opens at the course in 1971, as did Arnold Palmer in 1961.

When he won the British Open down the coast at Royal Liverpool in 2014, McIlroy mentioned an adage he first heard from Tom Weiskopf. You have to drive it well.

Rory McIlroy, due out at 9.47am, is confident he can still win after staging a back-nine rally to salvage his tournament on the first day.

The Claret Jug is there for the taking.

'Ecstatic' McIlroy roars into Open contention