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Irish pair getting back in swing

RORY McILROY and Pádraig Harrington both returned to form yesterday with a decent opening round to the St Jude Classic at TPC Southwind in Memphis.

The pair, playing in a three-ball with Graeme McDowell, both carded 68, which was just two shots behind joint leaders John Merrick and Jeff Maggert.

And McIlroy, who is trying to make the cut for the first time in four tournaments, was pleased with his round.

"I felt like that was about the best round of golf I played in a while," he said. "It could have been a lot better."

McIlroy, who defends his US Open crown at Olympic in San Francisco next week, stumbled when he was on three-under at the third hole, his 12th, when his approach shot found the water fronting the green and he went on to two-putt for bogey.

Otherwise, he was satisfied.


"Off to a decent start, definitely. Lots of good signs out there," he added.

"I'm getting the club in a better position. From there you have a little bit of freedom. You're not trying to protect against a bad shot. You're trying to hit the shot you can see."

McIlroy also had to contend with some light-hearted ribbing from playing partner Harrington.

"We'd a good time," Harrington said. "Leinster recently beat Ulster in the rugby final so there was some good stuff to talk about. The banter was good and it does help, you know.

"It definitely makes it easier when you've got some friends out there and you're really just playing a nice round of golf like you would at home."