This is my best start in a few years: McIlroy happy after first round of Masters

This is my best start in a few years: McIlroy happy after first round of Masters
Rory McIlroy reacts to his putt on the 17th hole during the first round at the Masters on Thursday. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Rory McIlroy was delighted to break 70 in the first round of the Masters for just the second time as he chases the win required to complete the career grand slam.

McIlroy ended the day three shots behind 2015 champion Jordan Spieth after a 69 which contained four birdies and just one bogey, the 28-year-old crucially making superb par saves on the last three holes.

"Jordan had a pretty strong finish there but this is my best start in a few years," McIlroy said. "It's such a hard golf course to play catch-up on. If you start to chase it around here, that's when you start to make mistakes.

"But to be right up there and have the ability to stay patient, because of the position I'm in, that's a nice luxury I have over the next few days.

"I drove it well. Everything was really solid. And if I can continue to play like that over the next three days, I'll be pretty close.

"It was a much different golf course today than what we've seen in practice. The SubAir (system) must have been running nearly all night. That's Augusta. That's what we sign up to whenever we come here. You know it's going to be firm and fast.

"Harry (Diamond, his caddie) said this place was at least five or six shots tougher today than it was when we played last week."

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