- Associated Press - Thursday, July 17, 2014

HOYLAKE, England (AP) - The first round of the British Open at 7,312-yard, par-72 Royal Liverpool at a glance (all times EDT):

LEADING: Rory McIlroy shot a bogey-free 66 for a one-stroke lead and his best score in a major since winning the 2012 PGA Championship.

PURSUING: Twenty-one-year-old Matteo Manassero holed out a birdie from 160 yards at the first hole and finished with a 67. The world’s top-ranked player, Adam Scott, was another shot back at 68 in a group that included Sergio Garcia, Jim Furyk, Shane Lowry, Brooks Koepka and Italian brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari.

TIGER’S BACK: Playing his first major of the year, Tiger Woods bogeyed the first two holes but bounced back to shoot 69. The 14-time major champion missed the Masters and the U.S. Open after back surgery March 31.

WHERE’S LEFTY? Defending champion Phil Mickelson struggled to a 74 and showed no signs of duplicating his 2013 triumph at Muirfield.

BLUE-COLLAR PLAYER: Cheered on by the home crowd, local factory worker John Singleton got off to a solid start, playing the first 11 holes at even par. Alas, he couldn’t keep it going, struggling down the stretch for a 78 that may have ended his hopes of making the cut.

KEY STAT: Only three of the top 18 players had afternoon tee times - Scott, Lowry and Boo Weekley (69).

NOTEWORTHY: McIlroy improved his first-round scoring to 55-under-par in tournaments around the world this year. Now, can he keep it going? For some reason, McIlroy has struggled mightily in the second round, with a cumulative score of 15 over.

QUOTEWORTHY: “It’s not like I’ve shot good scores in first rounds and haven’t backed them up before. I’m used to doing that. I just haven’t done it recently. We’ll see what tomorrow brings and what weather it is and try and handle it as best I can.” - McIlroy.

KEY PAIRINGS - Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Jason Dufner (4:26 a.m.); Tiger Woods, Henrik Stenson and Angel Cabrera (9:05 a.m.); Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth (9:27 a.m.).

TELEVISION: ESPN, 4 a.m.-3 p.m.

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