McIlroy leads the Italian Open in next year’s Ryder Cup tournament

Guidonia Monticello, Italy (AP) – Rory McIlroy’s competitive first round in next year’s Ryder Cup tournament was a success.

The four-times main champion tried to get close to an eagle on his way to the under-67s to get an early share of the club’s lead in the opening round of the Italian Open on Thursday at Marco Simone club outside Rome.

After producing only one birdie in his opening nine holes—having started his run from the back nine—McIlroy shot off the leaderboard when he fired his second shot for fourth at 453 yards third a few feet from the hole. The ball then rolled and McIlroy raised his arms gleefully as he watched from afar the trail running.

“Obviously that eagle ignited something and the kick kind of started on my run a little bit,” McIlroy said. “I played some really good golf my way. I played the hardest nine and the left nine wasn’t very good, so it’s probably going to be even. Just need to sort out a few things in the next few days.”

As new players continued into the course, McIlroy was tied for the lead with Gavin Green of Malaysia and Adri Arnos of Spain.

Defending champion Nicolae Hoggard, who played in a group with McIlroy and two-time Italian Open champion Francesco Molinari, finished one stroke behind the leaders.

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