Published Thursday, 09 August 2012
Rory McIlroy in action at Kiawah Island. (© Getty)
The Northern Irishman shot five birdies in a bogeyless opening round of 67, putting him on five under par after day one at Kiawah Island on Thursday.
Last month McIlroy was out of luck when his ball rebounded off a teenager's head and out of bounds at the Open in Royal Lytham.
But this time, when he hit a lady on the hip after pulling his tee shot to the dangerous short 17th, it came back into a nice lie in the sand close to the flag.
The 23-year-old was able to save par, earning a cheer from the public gallery - and he ran back to give the ball to the fan in question.
"It's becoming a habit hitting people at majors, so I will try not to do that again," said McIlroy, who picking up more shots on the second and sixth.
"I think that's my first bogey-free round in a while and it was a great way to start.
"I'm pretty comfortable on the course and only played nine holes on Monday and nine on Tuesday - I didn't feel I needed to play more.
"I'm expecting this to be the best day of the week (weather-wise), but it's hot and you just try to stay hydrated."
McIlroy's round left him in second place one behind clubhouse leader Carl Pettersson.
Alongside McIlroy are another Swede, Alex Noren, Spanish Ryder Cup hopeful Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and big-hitting American Gary Woodland.
Graeme McDowell placed four under- part of a group which also included Adam Scott, the Australian who blew the Open last month with four closing bogeys.
Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Wales' Irish Open champion Jamie Donaldson shot 69s, while Ian Poulter and Padraig Harrington - both looking to move into a Ryder Cup qualifying place - had 70s.
Two late birdies helped Martin Laird to a one under 71, but Luke Donald was in the water on the 17th as he shot 74 and Lee Westwood also finished poorly and signed for a 75.
Former Open champions Darren Clarke and Paul Lawrie both had 73s like Simon Dyson and David Lynn, while Robert Rock took 76 and Paul Casey, with only one cut made since dislocating his shoulder last Christmas, struggled again and handed in a 79.