McIlroy takes early clubhouse lead with 6-under 66

Rory McIlroy
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Rory McIlroy got off to another fantastic first-round start, firing a 6-under 66 at Royal Liverpool to take the early clubhouse lead in the Open Championship.
By T.J. Auclair
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Series: Golf Buzz

Published: Thursday, July 17, 2014 | 9:26 a.m.

Rory McIlroy got off to a dream start Thursday in the first round of the Open Championship.

The two-time major winner fired a bogey-free, 6-under 66 to take the early clubhouse lead at Royal Liverpool.

McIlroy is looking for his first major win since the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island and his first win on the PGA Tour since the 2012 BMW Championship. He has six top-10 finishes in 10 PGA Tour starts this season, highlighted by a runner-up showing at the Honda Classic.

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Though he's in a bit of a drought stateside, McIlroy notched a win at the European Tour's flagship event -- the BMW PGA Championship -- in May.

It's not much of a surprise to see McIlroy at the top of the leaderboard in the first round. Including today's 66 McIlroy is a combined 103-under par in rounds 1, 3 and 4, in official events this season. It's the second round that's been raising eyebrows. McIlroy is a cumulative 9 over in Round 2s.

Last week's Scottish Open was a microcosm of McIlroy's trends. He started out with a brilliant, course-record 64 at Royal Aberdeen only to follow it up with a disappointing 78 in Round 2. He wound up finishing in a tie for 14th.

He's hoping to buck the trend this week.

"I don't know what it is," McIlroy told ESPN following Thursday's round. "Maybe I'm putting a little bit too much pressure on myself. I'm going to take it shot-by-shot. I know everyone says that, but that's what you've got to do."

In five Open starts as a professional, McIlroy's best finish is a tie for third in 2011 -- that's also his only top 20. 

T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.