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Tiger Woods & Rory McIlroy Start Strong At British Open

Getty Images via Zimbio

Getty Images via Zimbio

Good news for the British Open ratings! Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, two of the sport’s two most recognizable faces, both performed extremely well on the Royal Liverpool course during the tournament’s first round on Thursday.

Often hampered by cool weather, rain and winds, conditions were fantastic for the Open Championship’s opening day. The sun was shining and winds, which amounted to nothing more than a pleasant breeze, were not a factor for players.

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Rebounding from an abysmal performance at the Quicken Loans National last month in which he failed to make the cut by four shots, Tiger Woods finished the day three under par. Although that was good enough to put him in the top 10, he actually got off to a troubling start.

Getty Images via Zimbio

Getty Images via Zimbio

Woods bogeyed two of the first three holes and nearly made another on the fourth. It did not look good for the 14-time major champion early on, but later in the round he sunk five birdies in six holes, putting him right back in the thick of things by shooting a 69.

There was a moment when Woods actually looked like his old self, as he fist pumped after a beautiful 30-foot putt put him just off the green on No. 11. Hopefully a sign of good things to come for Woods, who hasn’t finished a round below par since the final round of the Doral on March 9.

Things went well for Woods, but they went even better for Ireland’s Rory McIlroy. Everything went his way on Thursday, with three of his six birdies coming on challenging par 5s. He finished the round without a single bogey and solely in possession of the lead at -6.

Getty Images via Zimbio

Getty Images via Zimbio

McIlroy shot a 66, his best score at a major in nearly two years. With his play being maddeningly inconsistent during that period, McIlroy may have officially busted out of his slump. Either that or he’s set himself up to fail spectacularly on Friday.

An AP report notes that McIlroy has had a nine-hole score of 40 or higher on Friday that has taken him out of the mix in six of his last eight tournaments. Both he and Woods were hopeful about their chances to build on their strong start on Friday and qualify for the final two rounds this weekend.

One big unknown factor remains the weather, which has often played a big part at the British Open. Rain and wind gusts are expected in the morning, but should clear out and give way to a warm and humid afternoon with plenty of sunshine and minimal winds.

Right now the weather is expected to cooperate straight through the weekend. That’s good news for golf, but may add some extra pressure on Woods and McIlroy. They each shoulder the weight of heavy expectations and will have nowhere to hide if they self-destruct in round two.

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