Windy day at Honda Classic puts Rory McIlroy six behind

Rory McIlroy negotiated 'The Bear Trap' but stumbled on Palm Beach Gardens' punishing 18th to finish the opening round of the Honda Classic six shots off the lead.

It was a better day for compatriot Graham McDowell and England's Tommy Fleetwood, who - along with Tiger Woods - were two shots off the top of pack after even-par rounds of 70.

Ahead of them Sweden's Alex Noren and American Webb Simpson were tied for the lead after scores of 66 left them four under par in Florida.

Completing the first round level with reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia on two over, McIlroy had looked to be in good shape as he carded two birdies on the third and fourth.

Rory McIlroy plays a shot out of a bunker on the third hole during the first round of the Honda Classic. Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

However, blustery conditions accompanied bogies on the sixth and seventh and the former world number one failed to break par for 10 holes straight.

McIlroy cleared the challenging 15th, 16th and 17th holes - dubbed The Bear Trap - on par, but fell victim to the 556-yard 18th to card a double bogey.

The 2012 champion told the PGA website: "It was a pretty tough day. (The) wind was up, (the) greens got a little sort of crusty and firm.

"I felt like I was hanging on pretty well, doing what I needed to do, just sort of grinding out pars and was pushing for a birdie at the last to try and shoot under par and just tried to hold a three wood into the wind and overdid it a little bit.

"So, a disappointing finish but we'll get back out tomorrow morning and try to rectify that mistake and start again."

Only 20 players out of a field of 140 completed scores under par in the opening round, including McDowell and Fleetwood who managed birdies on McIlroy's nemesis 18th.

McDowell recorded the longest putt of the day at 63ft 9in on the par three 17th, one of only nine birdies on the hole.

After failing to make the cut in the Genesis Open last week, Woods played the best round of his comeback, hitting 10 of 18 greens and seven of 14 fairways.

Defending champion Rickie Fowler finished one over par to sit in a 20-way tie for 36th.

- PA

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