McIlroy opens PGA title defence with hairy first round

Rochester: Like his new haircut, Rory McIlroy`s one-under 69 in the opening round of the PGA Championship earned the Northern Irishman mixed reviews on Thursday.

McIlroy got his title defence off to a brilliant start with three birdies in his first four holes to charge up the leaderboard.

But the world number three could not maintain that momentum through a wobbly back nine that left him four shots behind co-leaders Jim Furyk and Masters champion Adam Scott.

"I got off to a fast start obviously," McIlroy told reporters. "I was three under through nine holes. I felt like I played really, really well on the front nine. Overall it was good, to shoot under par today was a solid way to get off to any major," he added.

Struggling through a season that has had more downs than ups after switching his club brand to Nike in a lucrative deal reported to be worth $250 million, McIlroy arrived at Oak Hill sporting a new look, having chopped his mop-topped locks in favour of a more disciplined close-cropped coif.

After romping to victory by a record eight shots in last year`s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, McIlroy appeared determined to once again run away from the field as he picked up a birdie at the first, and two more at the third and fourth.

The sprint, however, turned into a stumble with the 24-year-old collecting more bogeys (four) than birdies (two) over his final 14 holes.


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