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Dublin: 16 °C Sunday 22 September, 2019

Rory McIlroy backs up FedEx Cup triumph with strong start at European Masters

The four-time major winner fired three-under on Thursday at the European Masters.

Dennis Quaid, Rory McIlroy and Justin Timberlake pictured at the European Maters.
Dennis Quaid, Rory McIlroy and Justin Timberlake pictured at the European Maters.
Image: Imago/PA Images

RORY MCILROY BACKED up his FedEx Cup triumph with a strong first-round 67 at the European Masters in Crans-Montana on Thursday to sit just four shots adrift of early leaders Matthias Schwab and Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

The four-time major winner — who beat world number one Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele to claim the PGA Tour’s Tour Championship and the $15 million points list bonus at East Lake last weekend — fired a three-under round.

McIlroy mixed three birdies with as many bogeys on the opening day in Switzerland as he returned to Europe for the first time since missing the cut in his home British Open at Royal Portrush last month.

But he reeled off three birdies in his last five holes, including on the 18th.

Tommy Fleetwood, who also played the Tour Championship in the US, carded a five-under back nine of 30 en route to an impressive 65.

Former winner Sergio Garcia is also poised for a possible weekend charge following a 66.

But Austria’s Schwab and Frenchman Lorenzo-Vera lead the way at seven-under par after coping best with the high altitude.

“It reminds me of home a lot,” Schwab said. “I grew up in the mountains and still live there. I like being here, I like the mountains.”

Lorenzo-Vera, the world number 100, made a double-bogey on the fourth hole but hit back in stunning style as an eagle and four birdies saw him home in just 29.

“I’m very happy because I just had five weeks off,” he said. “It was a stressful five weeks with a wedding and moving plus two kids. I managed to bring the head together pretty well today.”

- © AFP, 2019

Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey and Bernard Jackman try to identify how Ireland can get back on track after Twickenham.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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