Rory McIlroy made a strong start at the Scottish Open on his return to golf, ahead of The Open next week.

McIlroy shot five under par and is one shot behind leaders Maximilian Kieffer and Li Haotong, who carded rounds of 64.

The 35-year-old was making his first appearance since his painful final day at the US Open last month, where he failed to hold his two-shot lead in the final five holes after missing two putts from inside four feet to allow Bryson DeChambeau to snatch a one-shot victory.

“I think it was a bit of a slow start,” said McIlroy after his return to action. “A bit up and down. I hit a couple of shots over the first few holes that I guess haven’t seen in practice over the last 10 days.

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McIlroy watches on heartbroken as Bryson DeChambeau putts to win the US Open

“A bit of a reminder that golf isn’t as easy as sometimes I think it is! Then I started to feel good, especially on the front nine, I started to hit some good drives and iron chances.

“Overall, a good start, especially after a scrappy start over the first seven holes.”

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McIlroy reflected on his US Open heartbreak by admitting he was too aware of DeChambeau’s position on the course

McIlroy carded three birdies and two bogeys on the back nine of the Renaissance Club to reach the turn in one under par.

However, he eagled the third and found two more birdies on the front nine in tricky conditions.

In the week after the US Open, McIlroy took time out from the sport to “process everything and build himself up” for his title defence in Scotland and his latest major start at The Open, spending a few days in Manhattan to reflect on his US Open performance.

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“I’ve always liked to figure out things myself. I’m not one to reach out for advice because then, for me, I always want to own my success and disappointments,” he added.

“I think being able to figure it out yourself and giving yourself that time is a good thing.”

Watch Rory McIlroy in PGA Tour and DP World Tour action live this season on Sky Sports. Watch the Genesis Scottish Open live on Friday from 9.30am on Sky Sports Golf, before the 152nd Open at Royal Troon from July 18-21. Stream the PGA Tour, majors and more with NOW.

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