McIlroy three off the lead in New Jersey as Lowry makes solid return after Open triumph

The pair are in action at The Northern Trust tournament.

McIlroy after sinking a birdie at The Northern Trust tournament.
McIlroy after sinking a birdie at The Northern Trust tournament.
Image: Mark Lennihan

Updated at 22.56

RORY MCILROY IS three shots off the lead after the opening round of the Northern Trust in New Jersey, while Shane Lowry made an encouraging return to competition after his triumph at The Open last month.

McIlory carded a six-under 65 on the first day, which included back-to-back birdies on the first two holes.

He sank another birdie on the sixth hole before hitting a slight bump on the turn with a bogey on the 10th.

But the Down native bounced back with two more birdies and an eagle to leave him well-positioned behind clubhouse leader Troy Merritt, who carded a nine-under 62.

The American sits one shot clear of his fellow compatriot Dustin Johnson.

Lowry finished his first round with a two-under 69. He sank five birdies in all, although he also hit a bogey and double-bogey between the third and fifth holes. 

Graeme McDowell, who was among the late starters, carded a 71 on the opening day of the tournament. It was a mixed round for the Northern Irishman, who hit four bogeys, two birdies and an eagle throughout the front and back nine.

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It was a difficult opening round for Tiger Woods, who finished on a disappointing four-over 75 which featured five bogeys and one double-bogey.

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