How it happened: McIlroy cards 73, Points leads

D.A. Points during the first round of the Shell Houston Open.

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Rory McIlroy played "OK" in his first round since losing his World No. 1 ranking to Tiger Woods.

McIroy shot a 1-over 73 in the first round of the Shell Houston Open and trails leader D.A. Points by nine shots. Points made birdies on his first five holes en route to carding an 8-under 64.

"I feel like I hit the ball OK," McIlroy said. "I think if I just eliminate the stupid mistakes . . . and keep playing the way I'm playing, I feel like I'm playing OK. I feel like there's a few low ones (rounds) in me."

McIlroy was 3 over on his front nine, including making double bogey at the par-5 eighth. But he made four birdies on the back nine, including both par-5s, to salvage the round.

McIlroy has a WD, T-33 and T-8 in three PGA Tour starts, and Houston will mark his last tournament start before the Masters. A victory would put McIlroy back in the No. 1 spot.

Other notable rounds include 68s from Lee Westwood and Bud Cauley, a 69 for Dustin Johnson, a 70 for Keegan Bradley, a 72 for Phil Mickelson and 74s from Brandt Snedeker and Hunter Mahan.

See how it all unfolded Thursday in Houston:

• • •

Update No. 18: 6:42 p.m. EDT

A par at the final hole, No. 18, gives Rory McIlroy an opening-round, 1-over 73. Keegan Bradley finished with a 70 while Dustin Johnson shot 69.

• • •

Update No. 17: 6:26 p.m. EDT

Rory McIlroy missed a short par save at the par-17th to fall to 1 over. Also, Brandt Snedeker is back to 2 over with one hole left after an earlier birdie at No. 15.

• • •

Update No. 16: 6:06 p.m. EDT

John Rollins has moved to 7 under, one back of the lead, through 17 holes, and his drive at No. 18 has found the fairway.

• • •

Update No. 15: 5:53 p.m. EDT

Dustin Johnson lays up at the par-5 15th and makes a 10-footer for birdie to move to 2 under. Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy went for the green in two and came up just short and right. He had a difficult shot from a weird lie near the greenside bunker, but he skies his third to about 8 feet and makes the birdie to move back to even – he bogeyed No. 14. Keegan Bradley also went for the green in two, but his 3-wood failed to cut and missed left, hitting a cart path and bouncing into the woods. He had to take a penalty and ended up with a bogey to fall to 2 under.

• • •

Update No. 14: 5:23 p.m. EDT

Rory McIlroy birdies the par-4 12th and par-5 13th to get back to even par. He's 3 under through four holes on the back nine. Also, Dustin Johnson birdied the short par-4 12th to get into red numbers at 1 under. Johnson drove the green way long and left, but a great flop shot to about 4 feet helped him set up the birdie.

• • •

Update No. 13: 5:18 p.m. EDT

Stricker bogeys No. 11 after finding the hazard to fall to 2 over. Snedeker, who also found the hazard, doubled the hole to fall to 3 over.

• • •

Update No. 12: 4:56 p.m. EDT

Steve Stricker bogeyed the par-4 10th to fall to 1 over and then at the par-4 11th his approach found the water. Also, Brandt Snedeker drove it left at No. 11 and found the drink with his approach, as well.

• • •

Update No. 11: 4:41 p.m. EDT

Rory McIlroy sticks his approach at the par-4 10th to a few feet and makes his first birdie of the day to move to 2 over.

• • •

Update No. 10: 4:13 p.m. EDT

Steve Stricker blasts out of the greenside bunker at the par-5 eighth with his fourth shot to set up a close putt to save par. Stricker is even on his round. His playing competitor Brandt Snedeker, who missed the cut last week in his first start back from a rib injury, missed a 7-footer for birdie from the fringe to remain at 1 over for the round.

• • •

Update No. 9: 4:11 p.m. EDT

Dustin Johnson gets back to even with a birdie at the par-5 eighth. Keegan Bradley also birdied the hole to move to 3 under. But Rory McIlroy double-bogeyed the hole to drop to 3 over. Not a good start for the former World No. 1.

• • •

Update No. 8: 4:01 p.m. EDT

Rory McIlroy still at 1 over now through seven holes. His round so far consists of a bogey and the rest pars.

• • •

Update No. 7: 3:43 p.m. EDT

Pat Perez, Gary Woodland and John Rollins lead the afternoon wave so far today at 3 under. They still trail leader D.A. Points, who is finished at 8 under, by five shots.

• • •

Update No. 6: 3:24 p.m. EDT

Keegan Bradley birdied Nos. 3-4 and is 2 under through five holes. Bradley has a string of three straight finishes of seventh or better going right now, too. His playing competitors, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, are both 1 over.

• • •

Update No. 5: 3:13 p.m. EDT

Could Houston signal the beginning of a turnaround for Bud Cauley. Cauley just wrapped up a bogey-free, 4-under 68, his best round since a final-round 65 in Phoenix. Cauley hasn't made a cut since Phoenix, either, missing three straight cuts and withdrawing from Tampa Bay during the span.

• • •

Update No. 4: 2:47 p.m. EDT

While Keegan Bradley is 1 under through three holes, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy are each 1 over. McIlroy bogeyed the par-4 second hole.

• • •

Update No. 3: 2:42 p.m. EDT

Thorbjorn Olesen finished solo seventh in his first PGA Tour start (not including WGC events) last week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. His second Tour start isn't going anywhere near as well. Olesen is 10 over through 17 holes. He's made just one birdie to go along with six bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey (No. 5).

• • •

Update No. 2: 2:29 p.m. EDT

D.A. Points just wrapped up an 8-under 64, his best round of 2013 by three shots, to enter the clubhouse with a one-shot lead over Cameron Tringale, who is 7 under through 17 holes. Points birdied his first five holes (Nos. 10-14). He's also missed seven of nine cuts to start the season, so this early performance is definitely a good sign for Points.

• • •

Update No. 1: 2:04 p.m. EDT

Rory McIlroy begins his round with par, as does his playing competitors Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley.

Also, Phil Mickelson shot even-par 72 this morning. He trails leader D.A. Points by eight shots. Points is 8 under through 17 holes today.

• • •

Pre-tournament coverage

TEE TIMES: Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley and Rory McIlroy will make up the featured group for the first two rounds at the Shell Houston Open. Check out the tee times.

QUESTIONS ARISE: Vijay Singh, who has said he used deer-antler spray containing a substance banned by the PGA Tour, offered no explanation for his withdrawal from this week's Shell Houston Open. Story.

FAMILIAR DIGS: Already back on the path to success in European competition, Paul Casey returns to the place where he peaked on the PGA Tour looking for another big step forward. Story.

PREDICTIONS: While Keegan Bradley is the cumulative favorite this week by our fantasy panel, but it is one pick that stands out: Rory McIlroy. Is the World No. 2 ready to return to the winner's circle? Picks.

WORTH A THOUGHT: Surely, Tiger Woods is at the forefront of golf fans' minds after his winning week in Orlando -- but this week, thoughts turn to Rory McIlroy in Houston. Notebook.

A FRIENDLY PUSH: Rory McIlroy heads to this week's Shell Houston Open no longer the world's No. 1 golfer, having ceded the spot to Tiger Woods, but he takes it as a natural, cyclical downturn. Story.

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