The Open 2014: McIlroy looking to avoid second-round syndrome

Rory McIlroy played a near perfect round on Thursday to head the pack going into Friday’s Open Championship at the Royal Liverpool links later today – and he’ll be looking to avoid the dreaded second-round syndrome which has been his bane all year.

McIlroy played some stunning iron play to shoot a six-under-par 66 and move into the lead at the 143rd Open by one stroke ahead of Italian Matteo Manassero.

But now comes the test for the Northern Irishman as he looks to stem the tide of a trend which has seen him regularly shoot over par in his second round.

McIlroy did benefit from the morning conditions on Thursday, but will tee off at 2:27pm today in what has been touted to be ‘changeable weather.’

"When you go back out on Friday after a good score you know what you can do, so you're going out with some expectations compared to Thursday," McIlroy said.

"I think I've just got to approach it trying to hit solid shots the first few holes and play my way into the round, just like I did (on Thursday).

"I just have to take it one hole at a time, one shot at a time - I know everyone says it and you've heard it a million times, but it's true.”

Seven players begin the day in a share of third place on four under – including Italian brothers Francesco and Edoardo Molinari, World No.1 Adam Scott and Spain’s Sergio Garcia.

Scott squandered a priceless four-shot lead with four holes to play at Lytham in 2012, so was delighted to still be in touching distance of Rory McIlroy heading into day two.

“It's important, you've got to keep pace with a guy like Rory," Scott said. "He has the potential to really put his foot down. I've seen him shoot lots of low rounds and there's nothing stopping him from doing that either.”

Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who is yet to win an event since victory at Muirfield 12 months ago, carded a two-over 74 to remain in contention, though he’s still a way off catching McIlroy and co.

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