Rory McIlroy shoots 67 at European Masters, trails leaders by 4

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Rory McIlroy shoots 67 at European Masters, trails leaders by 4

Euro Tour

Rory McIlroy shoots 67 at European Masters, trails leaders by 4

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Rory McIlroy came back to down to earth with a little bit of a bump in the first round of the $2.75 million Omega European Masters in Switzerland.

He got waxed by two guys still trying to win their first European Tour titles. That was just fine with the world No. 2 after the exploits of winning the FedEx Cup last week.

McIlory returned a 3-under-par 67 to sit in a tie for 23rd place, four shots behind joint leaders Mike Lorenza-Vera and former Vanderbilt player Matthias Schwab of Austria. McIlroy had six birdies and three bogeys on his card, but this was a day of relaxation after the stresses of out duelling Brooks Koepka at East Lake last Sunday.

“It’s so different, it’s fun,” McIlroy said about playing in the Swiss Alps in the European Tour’s most scenic setting. “The 18th hole finishes basically in the middle of the town. It’s a very nice atmosphere to play in. A little more relaxed. It’s been such a big adjustment for me from the sort of golf and courses I’ve been playing the last few weeks to here. I felt like I did OK with it today, didn’t putt as well as I wanted to.”

OMEGA EUROPEAN MASTERS: Leaderboard

Despite the low-key atmosphere of the opening round, the Northern Irishman still has overhauling Koepka from the top of the Official World Golf Ranking on his mind.

“I feel like when I’m playing my best I’m the best player in the world. I would like to get back there. It’s been a goal of mine for a while. I haven’t experienced that summit for the last four years. I feel like with the work that I’m putting in and the consistent golf that I’m playing, hopefully it’s only a matter time.”

Schwab only has one full season under his belt after turning pro in 2017. He finished 72 on the money list in his rookie season last year, and has five top 10 finishes this year, including third in the BMW International, to lie 60th on the Race to Dubai. Not surprisingly, the young Austrian feels right at home in the Swiss Alps.

“It reminds me of home a lot,” Schwab said. “I grew up in the mountains and still live there. I like being here, I like the mountains.

“I don’t know if growing up at altitude is an advantage, you still have to hit shots and play good shots. Obviously I know how far my ball is going at this altitude. That surely helps but other than that I don’t think it’s really an advantage.”

Lorenzo-Vera is returning to action after a long spell that’s involved more domestic duty than golf practice.

I’m very happy because I just had five weeks off,” the Frenchman said. “It was a stressful five weeks with a wedding and moving plus two kids. I managed to bring the head together pretty well today. I stroked the ball really well, with the irons, the putter.”

Lorenzo-Vera turned pro in 2005 and is still looking for his first European Tour win. He’s been close this year with runner-up finishes in the Qatar Masters and Andalucia Masters.

Tommy Fleetwood sits in joint sixth place after a 5-under 65.

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