Golfing gunslingers Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods sprayed Royal Liverpool with a barrage of birdie bullets to steal the show midway through the opening round of the 143rd British Open on Thursday.
Northern Irishman McIlroy on a blisteringly hot day fired a pacesetting six-under-par 66.
Matteo Manassero was in second place on 67, one ahead of fellow Italians Francesco and Edoardo Molinari. Also on 68 were American pair Brooks Koepka and Jim Furyk as well as Spain’s Sergio Garcia.
Woods, playing in only his third competitive round since undergoing back surgery in March, confounded the critics who wrote off his chances by shooting a 69.
The 14-times major winner made a poor start by bogeying the first two holes but it was almost vintage Tiger on the back nine as he went storming through the field with five birdies in six holes from the 11th.
The former world number one got his round going when he holed out from off the green at the 11th. Woods then rattled in birdies at the 12th and 13th before dropping a stroke at the 14th following a hook off the tee into thick rough.
The American bounced straight back by sinking a 12-footer at the next hole. A delicate chip to 12 inches from the cup at the 16th gave him another birdie before a long-range effort lipped out on 17.