Rory McIlroy rallied on the back nine to save an even-par round on day one of the Open Championship at Royal St George's.
The four-time major winner produced an excellent birdie on his final hole of the day to save an even-par round of 70, having fallen back to two over on multiple occasions.
McIlroy started brightly with a birdie on his opening hole, and looked in control of his game before three successive bogeys on the 5th, 6th and 7th holes left him two over and eight off the lead.
However, he stopped the bleeding with a birdie on 14, before saving a par on his second last hole of the day. And he closed things off with his fourth birdie of the day on the 18th to save his 70, and see him close out as the best of the Irish on day one.
Rory McIlroy will start tomorrow six shots back from the lead, with 2010 winner Louis Oosthuizen carding a perfect six-under bogey-free round of 64. Oosthuizen holds a one-shot lead from the American pair Jordan Spieth and Brian Harmon one shot further back.
Ireland's three other former champions in the field are over par after day one.
Defending champion Shane Lowry was frustrated with a bogey on 18 as he signed off on a one-over par round of 71.
"I’d say I played pretty average, I didn’t play my best golf,” said Lowry. “But then again, you’re playing with Louis who’s shooting six-under and playing great. It kind of makes you feel a little bit different.
"I was disappointed to bogey the last. Had I parred the last and shot level par I would have been quite happy with myself going home this afternoon, but I didn’t," he said.
However Lowry said his overriding emotion of the day was pride, having been forced to wait 12 months to walk out onto the first tee as defending champion.
"It was a very special day for me," Lowry said.
"The announcement on the first tee, I’ve been waiting over a year for that, so it’s quite nice.
"It was quite unsettling at the start and I got off to a pretty nervy start. I battled hard for the rest of it.
"But it’s so good to have the crowds here and it’s so good to be playing in the Open Championship like we know – the big crowds and getting clapped in the grandstands and on the tees, that’s pretty cool."
2011 winner Darren Clarke is alongside McIlroy on one over par, while two time champion Padraig Harrington is in a tie for 90th after a two over 72.