Date: September 05, 2008

Northern Ireland’s McIlroy makes flying start

Teenager Rory McIlroy produced easily the lowest round of his professional career – a dazzling 63 to lead the Omega European Masters in Switzerland. “About time,” said the Northern Ireland youngster, who goes into the second round three clear of Welsh pair Garry Houston and Kyron Sullivan, and Argentina&aposs Julio Zapata. “Golf&aposs such a fickle game. I could go and play better than that and shoot level par.” Australia&aposs charge is headed by Brett Rumford, who signed for a 67 to sit four off the pace. Countryman Scott Barr is next best at two-under the card. McIlroy&aposs eight-under performance beat by three the 19-year-old&aposs previous best on the European Tour – he switched to the paid ranks almost a year ago – but for him to take it in his stride was not entirely surprising. In his amateur days boy wonder McIlroy shot an incredible 61 at Royal Portrush. It was also three outside the lowest ever seen at Crans-sur-Sierre, perched 4,500 feet up in the Alps. Back in 1971 Italian Baldovino Dassu became the first Tour player to return a 60 and in 1992 Jamie Spence equalled that to win the title from a record 10 behind on the last day. After that, however, Seve Ballesteros controversially changed the greens and made the course much tougher. The official record for the new lay-out is the 62 of Eduardo Romero eight years ago. McIlroy burst on to the circuit in sensational style last year. After being leading amateur at The Open and then earning a Walker Cup cap he finished third in his second pro event and then fourth just a week later. That had many people wondering if he could become the youngest player in Ryder Cup history, but the story of his season so far has largely been one of disappointment and trying to be patient. He is 89th on the Order of Merit and has not made a cut since failing to qualify for The Open. “I&aposve done a lot of work in the last few weeks – I&aposve had a lot of time on my hands at weekends,” he added. “I feel like I&aposve been hitting it really well, but the results have not shown it.” “The pro-am was my first ever round here and I just love how far the ball goes. It&aposs a fun course.” Four birdies in the last five holes of the back nine enabled McIlroy to turn in 31, he started the outward half with another and then had three more in a row from the fifth. Meanwhile, the remnants of Hurricane Gustav washed out the first day&aposs play at the BMW Championship on Thursday. Officials have rescheduled the first round to be played on Friday at Bellerive, and plan to play 36 holes on Saturday to get the event back on track for a Sunday finish. “We&aposve had just under three inches of rain and we&aposre looking at upwards of four,” said PGA Tour tournament director Slugger White. “We&aposve got a mess out there. It may be as bad as I&aposve seen in a long time. The course has 16 miles of drainage that&aposs having trouble putting it anywhere.” Omega European Masters, Switzerland Round 1 Results (par 71) -8: Rory McIlroy 63 -5: Gary Houston 66, Kyron Sullivan 66, Julio Zapata 66 -4: Alejandro Canizares 67, Emanuele Canonica 67, Francois Delamontagne 67, Miko Ilonen 67, Peter Lawrie 67, Ross McGowan 67, Gary Orr 67, Brett Rumford (Australia) 67 -3: Juan Abbate 68, Ken Benz 68, Christian Cevaer 68, Martin Erlandsson 68, Niclas Fasth 68, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano 68, Miguel Angel Jimenez 68, Jean-Francois Lucquin 68 Also: -2: Scott Barr (Australia) 69 -1: Matthew Millar (Australia) 70 +1: Terry Pilkadaris (Australia) 72 +3: Peter Fowler (Australia) 74, Marcus Fraser (Australia) 74 +4: Kane Webber (Australia) 75