McIlroy trailing by three in Tour Championship

Rory McIlroy is currently three shots behind in Atlanta, though remains in contention for the PGA Tour’s Fed Ex Cup title, after the first round of the Tour Championship.

He is 11/2 to claim victory; however, American Chris Kirk is the current leader and 16/1 to maintain it. Although the Northern Irishman’s display wasn’t exactly poor, it is perhaps below-par, based on this year’s form.

“I haven’t been firing on all cylinders and will probably need to be,” McIlroy said. “But I was happy with that score and the way I hung in there. A few years ago that 69 would have been a 73 or 74.”

However, he may have landed himself in trouble with Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson after exclaiming his disbelief that neither American would finish in the final 30.

“I just couldn’t understand the backlash. I’ve said far worse things to Tiger’s face!” McIlroy said. “It wasn’t like I was writing them off at all.

“I just said Tiger didn’t get the chance to play here because he was injured, and that Phil’s played great at times. I said that we’ll see them both back at this event plenty of times.

“But when I saw the reaction I thought, ‘Hang on, have I said something wrong here?’ I don’t think so. I know those guys both really well and I don’t think I said anything out of order. I went on Twitter to try to clarify it, and I couldn’t believe the reaction.”

McIlroy had been up and down all round, however a 12-foot birdie put on the 17th saved him and got the Northern Irishman back into contention.

“It threatened to get away from me,” McIlroy said. “And with those three guys at the head of the standings playing so well I couldn’t afford to shoot a high number.”

Billy Horschel, who is second, currently has odds of 8/1 with Coral.

*Odds correct at time of publishing*