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McIlroy shoots opening 73, nine back at Dunhill Championships

ST. ANDREWS, Scotland — Rory McIlroy found himself nine shots off the lead after shooting 1-over 73 in the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Thursday.

Four days after celebrating a third straight European Ryder Cup victory, McIlroy had one birdie against two bogeys at Carnoustie, one of the three courses used for the tournament.

"A 73 isn't disastrous," he said.

Oliver Wilson of England, ranked 791 places below the top-ranked McIlroy, equaled the Carnoustie course record with 8-under 64. It's the second straight year he has shot an opening 64 to lead the Dunhill. Last year he finished tied for 59th.

Wilson was in the Ryder Cup in 2008, the last time Europe lost to the United States, but since 2011 has been competing on the secondary Challenge Tour. He received an invite for this week and sank nine birdie putts.

"I shot a 63 a fortnight ago in the Kazakhstan Open, which is our major on the Challenge Tour, so to shoot a 64 here at Carnoustie is very pleasing," he said.

"I only dropped one shot, which was disappointing at 17, but then to birdie the last makes up for that. I'm so delighted to get Carnoustie and the tougher of the three courses out of the way."

Raphael Jacquelin of France, also at Carnoustie, was one behind in second after his 65 included an eagle on the par-5 14th.

McIlroy sent his opening tee shot at Carnoustie way left after hitting the ground about four inches behind the ball, but he managed to save par. "I just felt a little flat coming here after the crowds and everything that we were playing in front of last week," he said.

Of the three other Ryder Cup winners in the field, Stephen Gallacher fared best with two eagles in his 68, followed by Victor Dubuisson (71) and Martin Kaymer (74).

LPGA: Top-ranked Stacy Lewis birdied five of her final seven holes for 7-under 66 and the first-round lead in the Reignwood LPGA Classic at Beijing. Lewis leads the tour with three victories and earnings of $2,214,143. Last year, she finished a stroke behind Shanshan Feng after the Chinese player eagled the par-5 18th. Sweden's Caroline Hedwall was second after shooting 67. South Koreans Sun Young Yoo and Jenny Shin were tied for third at 68.