Perhaps Rory McIlroy's struggles with links golf were overrated.
Amid sunny skies and breezy conditions, McIlroy had no problems at Royal Aberdeen, firing a 7-under 64 to set a new course record and take a one-shot lead at the Scottish Open.
McIlroy hasn't played in this event since 2009 and has struggled on links courses at the Open Championship, including a missed cut last year at Muirfield. He appeared in complete control Thursday in Scotland, though, carding eight birdies against just one bogey to move to the top of the early standings.
"Going out this morning in these blustery conditions, I thought anything sort of in the 60s was going to be a good score," McIlroy told EuropeanTour.com after the round. "So to shoot something a bit better than that is very pleasing."
The Ulsterman started slowly, playing his first seven holes in 1 under, before capitalizing on the middle section of the course. McIlroy made six birdies across a seven-hole stretch from Nos. 8-14, a run that easily could have been seven consecutive birdies considering his lone par came on the par-5 12th, when he had only an 8-iron in for his second shot.
"Just the way I controlled my ball flight out there, I was really pleased with," McIlroy said. "That's a real key for me to play well on links courses, and I was able to do that really well today."
At 7 under, McIlroy held a one-shot lead over Kristoffer Broburg upon signing his card and was two shots ahead of England's Michael Hoey.
McIlroy is making his first start since a surprising missed cut at the Irish Open last month, which was the first time all year that he finished a tournament outside the top 25.
- WIll Gray, Golf Channel