(Reuters) - Rory McIlroy made light work of the windy conditions to fire a course record seven-under 64 in the opening round of the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen on Thursday.
Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg established a new mark of 65 earlier but it lasted only two hours as former world number one McIlroy carded eight birdies and one bogey.
The Northern Irishman even drove the green at the downwind par four 13th - a distance of 436 yards - in the traditional curtain-raiser to next week’s British Open.
“Everything was pretty much on,” McIlroy said. “I controlled my ball flight really well which is the key to me playing well in these conditions and on these courses.
“I’ve been working the last ten days on keeping the ball down, hitting easy shots and taking spin off it and I went out there today and really trusted what I practised.
“I’m driving the ball really well and I feel if I can get driver in my hand and have an advantage on the field I should do it,” he added.
Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez also carded a 65 late in the day to share second place with Broberg.
Defending champion Phil Mickelson looked set to finish four under par, only to three-putt the 18th for the American’s only bogey of the day.
“The conditions were tough and I was surprised to see some of those low scores,” Mickelson said of his opening round.
“But, I feel like I played well and had a good putting day until the last. It’s a good first day.”
The scoring overall was excellent given the wind was gusting up to 20mph, with McIlroy’s fellow Northern Irishman Michael Hoey carding a 66 and former World number one Luke Donald of England and Scot Marc Warren shooting rounds of 67.
Broberg, who won four times on the Challenge Tour in 2012, said: “I played really, really well. I hit very good shots and a lot of close ones, so this helps a bit. And I kept away from those bunkers and stayed patient.
“I woke up at 4am and saw the wind out there. There was a little less wind to start, but it got more windy after eight holes so it’s the same for everybody.”
Reporting By Tony Goodson; Editing by Martyn Herman