MASTERFUL MCILROY

Flawless first round puts Northern Irish youngster in contention to break his Major duck at Augusta

RYDER CUP star Rory McIlroy insists he’s taking nothing for granted after he roared to the top of the Masters leaderboard with a brilliant first round 65.

The 21-year-old had never broken 70 in his previous three visits to Augusta but fired a bogey-free seven-under-par to share the lead with Spain’s Alvaro Quiros.

Leading a Major is not a totally alien experience for the Northern Irishman – he hit an opening-round 63 to lead the Open Championship at St Andrews last summer but followed it with an 80 – and knows it would be a mistake to get carried away with yesterday’s stellar performance.

“I’m not taking anything for granted. It’s a good start but that’s all it is,” he said. “I didn’t really put a foot wrong – that’s what you need to do here and that’s what you need to do in Major championships is limit your mistakes.

“St Andrews is going to be big on my mind but I’ve learned from it and I’ll be better prepared to go out and shoot a good score today.

“Today I didn’t have any errors. I made a good up-and-down at the first to sort of get my round going and after that I played really solid golf, hitting the ball where I wanted to and picking my targets and committing to them.”

Meanwhile, England’s world No2 Lee Westwood shot a level par 72 while Tiger Woods birdied 13 and 14 to finish one under.

Westwood’s compatriot Ross Fisher, who was in the first group out on the course, overcame bogeys on the first and fourth holes to card a 69.

“I felt like I played nicely,” he said. “Anytime you can make five birdies on the front nine is very pleasing. It was a shame to drop one on 17 but overall I’m pleased with 69.”