On a day featuring great conditions due to the absence of precipitation and little wind, low numbers were prevalent from golfers in the first wave of tee times.
With the second wave of players—notably world No. 1 Adam Scott and defending champion Phil Mickelson—already on the course, here's a current look at how the leaderboard is shaping up:
Rory McIlroy set the pace on Thursday with a brilliant six-under 66 to enter the clubhouse as the tournament's early leader.
In a blemish-free round, McIlroy accounted for six pars on the day, including this impeccable approach to the par-four second to get his round off to a nice start:
This isn't uncharted territory for McIlroy, as this will mark his 10th Round 1 lead on tour, via PGA Tour:
Unfortunately, that's not the only trend associated with McIlroy. While he's known to start fast in tournaments, he also has a reputation due to his second-round struggles.
Kelly Tilghman of the Golf Channel summed up his statistics for the season:
Rory McIlroy is now a combined -57 in his opening rounds of 2014. He's +9 in round 2. Solid day tomorrow would open a huge door.— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) July 17, 2014
Perhaps even more gruesome is McIlroy's statistics since the Masters, via Golf Central:
Rory McIlroy (-6) will look to put an end to his "Freaky Fridays" tomorrow at Royal Liverpool. (entering week) pic.twitter.com/oiR2LYGHp6— Golf Central (@GolfCentral) July 17, 2014
While McIlroy will look to end his second-round miscues on Friday, Tiger Woods will be aiming to keep his return to major tournament play alive and well.
Woods began nicely on Thursday, posting a three-under 69 to end his round just three shots off McIlroy's pace.
After a sluggish start, which included bogeys on the first two holes, Woods was able to right the ship and surge with a four-under 33 on the back nine. This gorgeous tee shot on the par-three 13th hole really helped his cause:
A frenzied group of media followed Woods around Royal Liverpool as he made his highly anticipated return to the course. However, photographers weren't exactly in Woods' good graces late in his round, as this reaction from the former world No. 1 showed, courtesy of theScore:
That wasn't Tiger's only interaction with bystanders on Thursday. Here's a look at an errant tee shot that hit the face of a volunteer, via ESPN Highlights:
Well, that certainly makes for an interesting day of golf.
Regardless, it was clear that Tiger was rather successful shaking off the rust during his first round. Rest assured, all eyes will be following his every move on Friday as he looks to get himself into great position entering the weekend.
After all, according to ESPN Stats & Info, he's not too far off from his winning pace at Royal Liverpool back in 2006:
Unfortunately, things didn't go so well for all of the field's favorites. Henrik Stenson had a roller-coaster round that ended in an even-par 72. You'd think a player would be fine with that considering the difficulty of the tournament. Not Stenson.
During a bit of a fit late in his round, Stenson pulled a Roy McAvoy from Tin Cup, as he broke his iron before handing it back to his caddie. Here's a look, courtesy of SportsCenter:
We already saw plenty of movement atop the leaderboard early on Thursday—at one point during the early rounds, there was a five-way tie for first—and we can expect to see more of the same as the day progresses.
The way things look right now, we are in for quite a memorable and highly contested tournament that is sure to provide some drama and plenty of intrigue over its final three days.