World No.6 Rory McIlroy has kept the pressure on Adam Scott. Photo: Anthony Johnson
Rory McIlroy has thrown down the challenge to the record-breaking feats of Adam Scott, by taking a share of the Australian Open lead at Royal Sydney.
Following Scott’s course record 62 on Thursday, McIlroy, the world no.6, shot 65 to charge into contention for the tournament, and possibly deny the Queenslander his triple crown of Australian majors.
Starting the day seven shots behind Scott at the top of the leaderboard, McIlroy shot a seven-under par round – the course record leading into the tournament – to put pressure on the Australian, who started his round at Royal Sydney at 12.10pm.
McIlroy was six under through 11 holes, but his second bogey of the round -on the fourth hole (his 15th) where he played into the trees and bunker – ruled out any challenge for Scott’s new course record.
But on the final four holes where Scott managed four consecutive birdies on Thursday, the Northern Irishman produced two birdies and two pars to head into the club house as equal leader.
Australian Richard Green shot a six-under par round of 66 – a round which included a hole-in-one – to take second place, one stroke behind the imposing pairing of Scott and McIlroy. Green’s hole-in-one came via an eight-iron on the par-three 6.
Fellow Australian Matthew Jones, who teed off with McIlroy and Geoff Ogilvy (-3), scored a four-under par 68, is one stroke behind Green on eight-under.
Playing under threatening dark clouds, McIlroy was enjoying the best of the scoring conditions before rain and wind threatened to test Scott and the rest of the afternoon starters.
Starting on the back nine on Friday, the one-time world No.1 and dual major champion rattled off birdies at the 10th, 13th, 15th, 16th and 18th holes to turn in four-under after just one slip-up on the 17th.
McIlroy then tapped in for another birdie after almost driving the short par-4 first hole.
His eighth and ninth birdies of the day came on the second and sixth holes as he charged up the leaderboard.
Green was also on fire, notching six birdies and his eagle on the 143m par-3 sixth to close in on Scott.
Matt Jones, Max McCardle and Ryan Yip share fourth spot at seven-under.
Jason Day, playing alongside Scott, will be trying to make up eight shots on his World Cup-winning teammate after carding a first-round 70.
South Australian left-hander Nic Cullen, who fired a one-over 73 on Thursday, had to withdraw before the start of the second round after spending the night in hospital with appendicitis.