Taking advantage of milder afternoon conditions, Rory McIlroy shot a 5-under round of 67 in the first round of the Irish Open on Thursday and is two shots back of Masters championr Danny Willett.
The Irish Open is hosted by the Rory Foundation at The K Club, and McIlroy is in contention after missing the cut the past three years. His 67 equalled his lowest round ever in the event.
"Last year was my first time hosting, but as well it was my fifth tournament in a row, so I was sort of at the end of my tether," he said. "So any little things that might have gone wrong on the course were magnified because it was five weeks in a row for me and I wasn't quite as patient as I should have been.
"So it's still the third week in a row (this year), but I still feel fresh. And coming off a three-week break after Augusta I think has definitetly helped as well."
For Willett, it marks his return to the European Tour after taking an extended break following his Masters victory. He missed the cut at The Players Championship last week. He currently leads McIlroy by more than a million points, and carded eight birdies against a lone bogey Thursday.
Fisher and Kaymer were the clubhouse leaders after the morning wave, which was played in rainy conditions.