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Rory McIlroy identifies room for improvement at Player's Championship

The Northern Irishman went through bogey-free at the usually tricky TPC Sawgrass, holing six birdies on his first 11 holes after starting on the back nine.

RORY MCILROY BELIEVES he could have carded better than his six-under 66 in the opening round of The Players Championship yesterday.

The Northern Irishman went through bogey-free at the usually tricky TPC Sawgrass, holing six birdies on his first 11 holes after starting on the back nine.

McIlroy only managed pars on his final seven holes to finish the first round three shots behind American Roberto Castro, who equalled the course record with a nine-under 63. The world number two was happy with his round but felt he could have been closer to Castro.

“A little disappointed not to birdie the ninth hole, but apart from that, I played well,” McIlroy said. “I gave myself plenty of chances. Definitely could have been better, but I’m not complaining. It’s my first round under-par on this golf course, so I’ll take anything I can get.”

McIlroy sits alongside Zach Johnson in a tie for second, while Tiger Woods is one of six players on five under in equal fourth. Woods went close to posting his first ever bogey-free round at the course, but he produced a five on the par-four 18th hole.

The world number one expects the course to get trickier as the tournament wears on, comparing it to the 1999 edition. David Duval put together scores of 74 and 73 in his final two rounds to win on three under that year, two shots clear of Scott Gump.

“If they don’t touch it, it’s going to get really tough by Saturday. Obviously, we’re supposed to get some weather come Sunday,” Woods said, with thunderstorms possibly hitting throughout the rest of the tournament but warm temperatures expected.

“The temperature’s supposed to change a little bit, but if they don’t do anything to it, it’s going to get … well, what year was it?  ’98, ’99 the year David Duval won.

“I think I shot 150 on that weekend and moved up. I don’t foresee it being that fast, but it could get there by Saturday afternoon.”

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