The Open 2016: McIlroy pleased with opening 69 at Troon

Rory McIlroy watches his putt just drift past the hole on the 16th at Troon on Thursday
Rory McIlroy watches his putt just drift past the hole on the 16th at Troon on Thursday
The Open Championship
Venue: Royal Troon Date: 14-17 July
Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website from 06:30 BST. BBC Radio 5 live 10:00-19:00, BBC Two highlights 20:00-22:00.

Rory McIlroy was upbeat after posting a two-under-par 69 in Thursday's first round of the Open at Troon.

The 2014 champion from Holywood, who got to four under on the front nine before dropping back, is six behind first-round leader Phil Mickelson.

"It was good, a solid start. I was able to make a run of birdies on the front nine," said McIlroy, who is tied 22nd.

Darren Clarke carded a level-par 71 but Graeme McDowell has work to do to make the cut after firing a four-over 75.

Padraig Harrington, twice a winner, shot a one-under 70, but Paul Dunne and Shane Lowry had disappointing starts on the Scottish links with rounds of 77 and 78 respectively.

McIlroy picked up shots at four, six, seven and eight to move into a tie for the lead.

The world number four, who missed last year's tournament because of an ankle injury, slipped back on the tougher back nine.

A double-bogey at the 13th was followed by another dropped shot at the next hole but McIlroy quickly recovered with a birdie at 15.

"You really needed to make hay on the front nine and after a slow start I was able to do that," added the four-time major winner.

"The double-bogey was disappointing and that affected by tee shot at the next but I was able to bounce back at the 15th."

American Mickelson was one missed putt away from a new record for the best ever round at a major but still leads nearest challengers Patrick Reed and Martin Kaymer by three.