Rory McIlroy produced the fast start he had craved as he looks for a second U.S. Open Championship title at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
All four of McIlroy’s previous Major Championship wins came after a first round in the 60s and the 30-year-old will hope that sequence continues in California after an opening 68 which left him three under and continued his recent fine form.
The former World Number One has moved up to third in the Official World Golf Ranking after a win last week on the US PGA Tour, his second of the season to go with top tens at the WGC-Mexico Championship, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and US PGA Championship.
The Northern Irishman started on the back nine and made a bogey on the tenth after pulling his approach into a bunker but birdied the 13th and then hit a superb tee shot on the par three 17th to set up another.
After scrambling for a par on the 18th, McIlroy picked up further shots on the second and third and also rattled the pin from 15 feet for par on the fifth after duffing his chip from heavy rough.
“I think I did what I wanted to do, which was hit it in the fairways for the most part, hit a lot of greens and when I didn’t I was able to get it up and down,” he said.
“I did everything you need to do in a U.S. Open, I stayed patient after I bogeyed the first and played really solid after that so I did what you are supposed to do, make a lot of pars, chip off the birdies when you can and it was a good day’s work.
“It’s important for everybody (to make a fast start) but especially trying to get my way back to winning these big events it is important. The first two Majors this year I shot 73 at Augusta and over par at Bethpage as well and it’s so hard to chase, especially when courses are so tough.
“To get off to such a good start you are right in the tournament from the start which is a nice position to be in.”