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Rory recovers from sticky start

FOR a few fleeting moments, it looked like Rory McIlroy was about to relive his 2011 Masters meltdown all over again.

Desperate to redeem himself after blowing a four-shot lead in the final round last year, McIlroy could hardly have made a worse start to yesterday's opening round, taking a double-bogey on the first hole.

He was still over par and struggling after making two bogeys early on the back nine but regained his composure to birdie the last two holes and finish with a topsy-turvy one-under-par 71, four shots off the pace.

“It'll make dinner taste a lot better tonight,” he said after walking off the 18th green at Augusta National.

“I wanted to at least finish even par, and birdieing the last was really nice. I'm definitely happy coming off the course in red numbers.”

While McIlroy's 71 was not as impressive as his opening round of 65 last year, the 22-year-old Northern Irishman was relieved to escape major problems on a day when most players struggled with the conditions and pressure at the Masters.

“I wouldn't quite say it was a soap opera, but it wasn't the best obviously,” he said. “It wasn't the start that I would have liked to have got off to but I steadied the ship.”

With an early tee time today, McIlroy believes he can capitalise and shoot an even better score.

“I'll take 71, and hopefully it's a good score to build on,” he said.