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Rory McIlroy starts hot at Carnoustie, cools off in first round of Dunhill Links

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Rory McIlroy played his first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at Carnoustie and was going along quite nicely when he made the turn.

Starting at the par-4 10th, McIlroy made four birdies compared to no bogeys on his opening nine to go out in 4-under 32.

The Northern Irishman then birdied the par-4 second to reach 5 under par and potentially set up a low round at what is traditionally the toughest of the three courses – The Old Course at St. Andrews and Kingsbarns being the other two – played in the Dunhill Links.

However, McIlroy could only manage one birdie to go along with two bogeys over his final seven holes, resulting in a 4-under 68 in easy conditions Thursday in Scotland.

“I started well. Obviously played the back nine very well and then yeah, sort of stalled a little bit,” McIlroy said. “I made a couple of bad swings coming in. Led to the bogey on 3 and then ended up making a decent bogey on 9 after a bad tee shot.

“Overall, you're not going to get Carnoustie in easier conditions, so feel like I left a few shots out there. But overall it was a decent day and I guess to play decent today is sort of the, you don't want to try to be chasing going into what looks like really bad weather tomorrow. So at least I've put a red number on the board and I've got a few shots to play with.”

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Even for Scotland, tomorrow’s forecast is, as McIlroy said, “really bad.”

Friday calls for a 100 percent chance of rain that could amount to localized flooding, with winds consistently blowing 25-35 mph and potentially gusting even higher.

The world No. 2 is slated to play Kingsbarns in Friday’s second round, which McIlroy thinks could be a totally different golf course if the forecast holds.

“Yeah, when the weather is like (it was Thursday), I feel like Kingsbarns is the easiest course of the rotation, but when the weather turns, it's the most difficult,” McIlroy said. “It is exposed and a lot of the greens are on high points out there. Hopefully it's not too windy and balls don't start rolling around everywhere. Hopefully we get it in tomorrow but we'll just have to wait and see.”