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McIlroy, Cantlay lead with 65s

The Philippine Star
McIlroy, Cantlay lead with 65s
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland acknowledges the crowd on the 18th green during the final round of the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 14, 2024 in Augusta, Georgia.
Warren Little / Getty Images / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — Rory McIlroy sank a birdie putt from just inside 20 feet at the 18th hole to complete a five-under-par 65 first round and match Patrick Cantlay for the lead at the US Open on Thursday.

World number three McIlroy, chasing his first major victory since the 2014 PGA Championship, delivered a bogey-free round at Pinehurst, defying its dome-shaped greens, sandy waste areas and wiregrass.

“I’m delighted with the start,” McIlroy said.

“As the week goes on the golf course is going to get a bit faster and a bit firey, but right now, there’s opportunities out there and thankfully I was able to take advantage of them.

“I think more so this championship than the others, getting off to a good start is really important to try to keep yourself up there. Because you need to give yourself as much of a cushion as possible knowing what’s lurking around the corner.”

America’s ninth-ranked Cantlay, a back-nine starter, birdied three of his last five holes for an early 65 and with McIlroy took a one-stroke lead over Sweden’s sixth-ranked Ludvig Aberg, Masters runner-up in his major debut, with France’s Matthieu Pavon and American Bryson DeChambeau sharing fourth on 67.

“It’s the US Open. It’s supposed to be hard,” Aberg said. “That’s what we’re doing here.”

McIlroy, a 30-year-old from Northern Ireland, sank a seven-foot birdie putt at the fourth hole then chipped in brilliantly from just off the green for a birdie at the par-5 fifth.

The four-time major winner added a birdie putt from just inside seven feet at the par-5 10th then birdied two of the last three holes, sinking an 11-footer at the par-4 16th and then his tension-packed putt at 18.

“I think the one thing we got a little lucky with today was the cloud cover, so the golf course didn’t get as fiery as I expected,” McIlroy said.

Tiger Woods, a 15-time major winner, struggled to a 74. He had five bogeys in a seven-hole stretch starting at the 16th after teeing off on the back.

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