Rory McIlroy had a clear target in mind as he looked to boost his bid for a second Open Championship victory at Royal Liverpool on Friday.
McIlroy recovered from a slow start to card an opening level-par 71 to trail Ryder Cup team-mate Tommy Fleetwood, Emiliano Grillo and South African amateur Christo Lamprecht by five shots after day one.
The world number two, who lifted the Claret Jug at Hoylake in 2014, was two over par after 13 holes before making birdies on the 14th and 15th and a crucial par on the 18th after needing two shots to escape a greenside bunker.
“It was a really good par in the end,” McIlroy said. “I got lucky because that ball could have gone into a deeper part of my footprints and I could have been there all night.
“I could have let that round get away from me, but I didn’t with the two birdies on the back nine. I need to shoot something in the 60s and I will be right there for the weekend.”
Fleetwood had earlier ridden a wave of home support as he carded six birdies and a bogey in a five-under-par 66.
“It really was a great day,” the 32-year-old from Southport said. “To get that support all day was amazing. If you’re not going to enjoy this atmosphere and these experiences then what’s the point? Make sure you have the time of your life out there.”
Shot of the day
Austria’s Sepp Straka plays mainly on the PGA Tour but showed he has the imagination to thrive on links courses with a deft chip on the 18th.
Round of the day
Three players shot 66, but the nod goes to 22-year-old amateur Lamprecht for an impressive performance on his Open debut.
Quote of the day
As one of his sponsors is an American airline, Stewart Cink had to be diplomatic about his travel woes on the way to Hoylake.
Statistic of the day
The par-five fifth played fractionally easier than the 15th, giving up two eagles and 72 birdies for a scoring average of 4.673.
The 507-yard 10th hole is a par five for the members but a par four for the Open and played predictably difficult, yielding just 13 birdies and playing to an average of 4.346.
Turning cloudy with a chance of showers on Friday morning. Drier and brighter by the afternoon. Becoming breezy with wind gusting up to 24mph.
Key tee times
0635 Rasmus Hojgaard, Matthew Southgate, Alex Fitzpatrick
0958 Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose
1253 Louis Oosthuizen, Joost Luiten, Christo Lamprecht
1404 Jordan Spieth, Matt Fitzpatrick, Jason Day
1448 Scottie Scheffler, Tommy Fleetwood, Adam Scott