Golf: McIlroy sets course record 64 at Scottish Open

ABERDEEN (AFP) - Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy muscled his way to a one-stroke lead with a new course record on the opening day of golf's Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen on Thursday.

He grabbed eight birdies, including four in succession mid-round, to break the existing course record by two shots with an seven-under 64 on the links gem.

It handed the double Major winner, who is contesting the event for the first time in four years, a one-shot clubhouse lead over Sweden's Kristoffer Broberg, and with the 27-year old Stockholm player equalling his best score on Tour with a six-under par 65.

McIlroy's score lowers the existing mark of local Royal Aberdeen club champion, Mark Halliday, by two shots, and it adds to a growing number of course records on both sides of the Atlantic that the 25-year-old holds.

The pick of those is an Old Course record of 63 set on the opening day of the 2010 (British) Open championship and a similar score in the 2009 WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.

"It depends where it is whether or not setting a new course record is special to me but then there is a few that are a little better than the others," he said.

"I just hope nobody betters the 61 I shot at Royal Portrush, as I have been holding onto that one for years.

"But it was just a great start and any time you can start a tournament like that you have to be very pleased and it's obviously something I can build on for the next three days.

"More importantly I was more pleased in how I controlled my game out there and controlled my ball flight, and after having practised those shots over the last 10 days, it was good to go out and trust it today in a tournament round.

"So regardless of the score, the way I played today was just the most pleasing thing and if I can play like that over these next few days going into next week, then that is what I need to do and the type of golf I have to play at Royal Liverpool."

McIlroy's impressive display off the tee was no better highlighted when he drove the green at the downwind 436-yard par-four 13th, much to the amazement of the three-player group in front and still on the green that comprised defending champion Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald and Holland's Joost Luiten.

Broberg had just 24 putts in his round, four fewer than McIlroy.

Two years ago the softly-spoken Swede made a big noise in rewriting the secondary Challenge Tour records in winning four events to secure his main European Tour card.

And while Broberg struggled last year in his rookie season with injury, he has virtually wrapped up his Tour card for 2015 with a share of third in the recent Irish Open.

"I played really, really well and I hit very good shots and a lot of close ones, so this helps a bit," he said.

"And kept me away from those bunkers and I stayed patient."

Donald, along with Scotland's Marc Warren, are well placed with four-under 67s and one fewer than Mickelson, with the holder eagling the sixth hole but then dropping a shot at the last.