Rory McIlroy has struggled previously with links golf, but he had no such issues Thursday at Royal Aberdeen. Here's how things look after the first round of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, where McIlroy holds a one-shot lead after setting a new course record:
Leaderboard: Rory McIlroy (-7), Kristoffer Broberg (-6), Ricardo Gonzalez (-6), Michael Hoey (-5), Luke Donald (-4), Marc Warren (-4), Richard Bland (-4), Phil Mickelson (-3)
What it means: McIlroy has made no qualms about the frustration he has experienced in years past on links courses, but he got off to a fast start in his final tune-up before the season's third major. With weather conditions better than expected for the opening round, several players took advantage by posting low numbers, including Mickelson, the event's defending champion.
Round of the day: McIlroy got off to a somewhat slow start, playing his first seven holes in 1 under, but caught fire in the middle of his round. The Ulsterman made six birdies across a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 8-14 to surge up the leaderboard, carding eight birdies in total while setting a new low mark at Royal Aberdeen.
Best of the rest: Broberg was off early Thursday morning and briefly held the clubhouse lead after a bogey-free 65 on the par-71 layout. The Swede made six birdies across his first 12 holes, including four straight on Nos. 8-11, and now sits just one shot off the pace amid a star-studded leaderboard.
Biggest disappointment: While several big names got off to strong starts, Ian Poulter was not among that group. Poulter bogeyed five holes in his opening round, including three of his final six holes, en route to carding a 2-over 73. Poulter made each of his five bogeys on par-4 holes and now sits nine shots off the pace and outside the cut line heading into the second round.
Main storyline heading into Friday: McIlroy was one of the players to watch entering the week, and now he will be the player to watch in the second round as he looks to increase his advantage. Not to be overlooked are Mickelson, who played his first 17 holes without a bogey before a three-putt on the closing hole, and Donald, who quietly carded a 67 and certainly has a fair amount of experience on links courses.
Shot of the day: Mickelson found himself on a cart path after his tee shot on the par-4 13th, but played a Mickelsonian approach from the road. The southpaw clubbed down to a wedge with lower bounce and clipped the ball off the path, spinning it to within 15 feet to lead to his second birdie in a row. (View video here.)
Quote of the day: "Going out this morning in these blustery conditions, I thought anything sort of in the 60s was going to be a good score. So to shoot something a bit better than that is very pleasing." - McIlroy