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Rory McIlroy tied for fifth at the Canadian Open after opening day 66

The Ulsteman finished with a round of 66.

McIlroy's tee shot at the 13th yesterday.
McIlroy's tee shot at the 13th yesterday.
Image: Frank Gunn

MATT FITZPATRICK CLOSED the first day of the RBC Canadian Open one stroke behind leader Wyndham Clark, while defending champion Rory McIlroy was tied for fifth.

Clark opened with a run of five birdies in nine holes and ended the day bogey-free on 63, while Fitzpatrick started and finished with birdies to follow closely behind.

It was three years to the day since Northern Ireland’s McIlroy lifted the trophy, with the pandemic cancelling the last two years of the championship.

On Thursday he finished with a round of 66 tied with Tony Finau, Lee Hodges and Mackenzie Hughes.

In 2019, McIlroy carded a stunning final round of 61 at Hamilton Golf and Country Club to seal a seven-shot triumph.

“Really solid start,” said McIlroy, who finished tied for 18th at last week’s Memorial tournament.

“Overall, very happy with the start of the week, especially coming off a disappointing weekend at the Memorial last weekend. It was nice to bounce back with a good score.”

Thursday’s PGA Tour event teed off against the backdrop of turmoil in the golfing world following the launch of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series outside London.

The PGA Tour said early Thursday that 17 players signed up to the LIV series have now been banned from its tournaments.

Last month, Fitzpatrick missed out on his first major title by two strokes in the US PGA Championship at Southern Hills.

Fitzpatrick was denied a share of the lead after a lone bogey five on the par-4 fourth hole.

“I’ve made a lot of cuts this year and had a lot of really solid rounds,” Clark said afterwards.

“I just haven’t put them together. So I’ve been trending in the right direction, and today it all kind of came together.

“I’m really hoping that we keep going this week with that and leading into next week at the US Open and for the rest of the summer. My game feels good.”

Leading first-round scores on Thursday in the US PGA Tour Canadian Open in Toronto (USA unless noted, par-70):

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63 – Wyndham Clark

64 – Matt Fitzpatrick (ENG)

65 – Doug Ghim, Harold Varner III

66 – Mackenzie Hughes (CAN), Rory McIlroy (NIR), Lee Hodges, Tony Finau

67 – Shane Lowry (IRL), Carlos Ortiz (MEX), Jim Knous

Mark Hubbard, Alex Smalley, Sam Burns, Keith Mitchell, Patrick Rodgers, Jonas Blixt (SWE)

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