Golf

Rory McIlroy six shots off the first round lead at Sawgrass

Rory McIlroy could only manage a one-over par 73 on day one at Sawgrass
Martin McGoran

RORY McIlroy made an unspectacular return to golf after his recent nuptials as he posted a one-over par 73 in the opening round of the Players Championship at Sawgrass.

The Holywood man had an eventful day with five birdies being offset by a pair of double bogeys and another two bogeys, but a birdie at the final hole kept him within six shots of the overall lead, held jointly by William McGirt and McKenzie Hughes, who posted a pair of 67s.

One shot off the lead on four-under lie European duo Jon Rahm and Alex Noren, along with JB Holmes and Chez Reavie, while the group of 11 players on three-under includes David Lingmerth, Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera-Bello.

Defending champion Jason Day is on a group of players on two-under par with other former winners Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott, who double bogeyed the final two holes when it looked like he would claim the outright first round lead.

Graeme McDowell had a steady opening round with a 71, the same score as World number one Dustin Johnson.

Newly-crowned Masters champion Sergio Garcia had a hole-in-one at the notorious par three 17th, but it only hauled him back to one-over par, alongside McIlroy and Jordan Spieth, while Ireland's Shane Lowry has work to do after a 74.

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