Rory McIlroy, shown in a file photo from a tournament in May 2010, tied a record with a 9-under-par 63 Thursday and took the early lead at the British Open. UPI / Mark Wallheiser | License Photo
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland, July 15 (UPI) -- Rory McIlroy tied the St. Andrews course record with a 9-under-par 63 Thursday, an early score that stood up for the first-round lead at the British Open.
McIlroy's round of seven birdies, an eagle and 10 pars marked just the second time during the British Open that a player turned in a 63 at St. Andrews.
Most of the day's best scores came from players with early tee times Thursday when weather conditions were good. Later in the day the wind kicked up, rain spattered the course and scores generally went up.
McIlroy has a 2-stroke lead over Louis Oosthuizen, who had six birdies in a seven-hole stretch but also had a bogey at No. 17. Andrew Coltart and John Daly, who played in the same early threesome, are tied for third with Bradley Dredge, Peter Hanson and Steven Tiley at 6-under 66.
Nine other golfers, including Tiger Woods, finished the first round at 5-under 67.
Overall the score of 63 has been turned in 24 times in major golf tournaments, but there's never been a 62.
"I was thinking going up 17, what's the lowest score for a major," McIlroy stated. "I didn't know it. I know there's been a few 63s, but wasn't sure if there were any 62s. That might have crept into my mind a little bit hitting that putt on 17."
"That putt" on 17 was a 4-footer than McIlroy missed. He finished his round with a birdie, however, for a share of the record.
McIlroy was 1 under after eight holes before an eagle putt at the 352-yard, par-4 ninth hole ignited his game. He followed with birdies on five of the next six holes, a string that put thoughts of the record in his mind.