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McIlroy is left playing catch-up after patchy start in Boston​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty Images

Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty Images

Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty Images

Rory McIlroy bounced back well from a slow start but still left himself with work to do in the Northern Trust at TPC Boston if he's to challenge for another $15m FedEx Cup bonanza.

With just one top-20 finish since the PGA Tour returned 10 weeks ago, the world No 3 is struggling to regain his pre-lockdown form. And those problems were evident again as he slipped to two-over after four holes of the opening playoff event before fighting back with four birdies in his next seven.

Ranked eighth in the FedEx Cup race, McIlroy couldn't quite push on signed for a two-under 69, leaving him five strokes behind Harris English, whose 64 gave him a one-shot lead over Louis Oosthuizen, Charley Hoffman and Scott Piercy. Tiger Woods, meanwhile, posted a 68.

The Irish also have work to do in the Women's British Open at Royal Troon where winds gusting to 40mph sent scores soaring.

Just three players in the 144-strong field broke par, headed by American Amy Olson, who posted a four-under par 67 to lead by three shots from compatriot Marina Alex and Germany's Sophia Popov.

Stephanie Meadow mixed six bogeys with birdies at the 16th and 17th to post a battling 75 that left her just inside the cut line. But Banbridge amateur Olivia Mehaffey and Slieve Russell's Leona Maguire have work to do after faltering late to card six-over 77s.

Mehaffey did the hard part by turning in one-over. But she bogeyed the 10th, 12th and 14th and followed her lone birdie at the par-five 16th with a double-bogey five at the 17th and bogey at the last.

It was equally frustrating for Maguire, who was four over after taking a five at the Postage Stamp, the short but deadly 114-yard eighth. After another bogey at the 11th, the Slieve Russell star got back to four-over with a birdie four at the 16th only to finish with a morale-sapping double-bogey six.

On the European Tour, England's Jordan Smith and Scotland's Connor Syme opened with five-under 66's to lead the ISPS Handa Wales Open at a blustery Celtic Manor Resort.

They were two clear of Callum Shinkwin, Sebastian Soderberg, Kurt Kitayama and Robert MacIntyre, with Clandeboye's Jonathan Caldwell the best of the Irish, tied for 43rd.

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Cormac Sharvin was just inside the cut mark after a 73, but Paul Dunne shot 74 and Gavin Moynihan 77 to leave them facing an uphill battle.

Elsewhere, Massereene's Nathan Kernaghan won the Irish Assistants' PGA Championship at Nuremore Hotel & Country Golf Club, while in amateur golf Holywood's Tom McKibbin leads the Irish challenge into the final round of the Brabazon Trophy at Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire.

The Co Down talent made five birdies in a two-under 69 to share ninth place on six-under par, five shots behind leaders Christoffer Bring of Denmark and England's Enrique Dimayuga with Kilkenny's Mark Power a shot further back after a 73.

At Lurgan, Malahide's Gavin O'Neill birdied his last three holes to shoot a level-par 70 and win the Irish U-16 Boys Championship by a shot from Roganstown's Sean Keeling on one-over.

  • Women's British Open, 10.30
  • Wales Open, 1.30
  • Northern Trust, 7.30, Live on Sky Sports

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