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McIlroy trails by eight after first round of US Masters

Rory McIlroy’s first round at the US Masters wasn’t a disaster by any means, and he will know that at one-under par for the tournament so far he is in a good position to pounce.

It is almost a carbon copy of his form at the Open last year; playing percentage golf, not taking too many risks this early, and making sure he is still there or thereabouts. At seven shots behind American rookie Jordan Spieth, the leader is untested defending a big advantage in a major tournament, and McIlroy knows only too well, from 2012 when he took an eight-shot lead into the final day before capitulating.

At 9/1 with Coral to win, he is still third-favourite, and will be looking for a slight improvement, to ensure he gets into a good position for the third round, to win the only tournament which eludes him for a career Grand Slam of majors.

Spieth was impressive, though. His approach play and putting throughout was measured and sensible; another round of golf like this and the rest of the field will have a hard task keeping pace. The 21-year-old’s odds have plummeted to 21/10; however, he was still third-favourite at 11/1 going into the event, with many predicting him to challenge for the Green Jacket throughout.

Every fan of golf will have been pleased to see Ernie Els card a hugely impressive score of five-under par. One of the sport’s favourites for his humility, the South African seemed back to his best in the spring Augusta sunshine, and is still good value at 5/1 for a top five finish, especially if he at least records a score of par in the second round.

Even Tiger Woods looks much-improved. His one over par score is a modest improvement on recent tournaments, and it is evident that he has been putting intensive sessions in on the driving range, as was widely reported in the run-up. At 18/1 these are still good odds for the former world number one to finish in the top five, and start getting his major career back on track.