Rory McIlroy wasn't at his best on Thursday as he teed off at Augusta National for the opening round of the 2012 Masters. Just one year after McIlroy seemed to have a green jacket within his sights before a final-round meltdown knocked him out of contention, the young star returned to the scene of the crime. If the first hole was any indication, it wasn't going to be McIlroy's day.
On No. 1, McIlroy found trouble right away, recording a double-bogey to start his round at 2-over at the snap of a finger. It was quickly apparent he was going to have to grind out a score and hope to stay within striking distance.
And that was exactly what he did, recovering with a birdie on No. 2 to get to 1-over and plodding along with pars as the front nine wore on. He finished strong heading into the turn, birdying the eighth and ninth holes to get to 1-under heading to the 10th.
A bogey on No. 11 put McIlroy back at even, and another bogey two holes later had him back at 1-over for the tournament. However, in what seemed to be a theme for him on Thursday, McIlroy finished the back nine as he did the front, birdieing the final two holes -- difficult holes that had been giving players fits all day -- to card a 1-under 71 to open the tournament.
His 1-under still puts him four back of Lee Westwood, who holds the lead in the clubhouse with the first round winding down. But it was a solid start for McIlroy, who appeared to be fighting himself throughout the day.
You can view the live Masters leaderboard here.