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  1. ITV Report

Thousands turn out for day one of British Masters

Thousands of golf fans and spectators turned out on Day One of the British Masters to see some of the world's greatest golfers take to the greens of Close House.

A relaxed Rory McIlroy made the most of a little help from his friends as he tries to end a disappointing season in style in the British Masters in Northumberland.

McIlroy, who was a late entry into the £3million event after failing to qualify for the Tour Championship, carded a three-under-par 67 to lie four shots behind leaders Tyrrell Hatton and George Coetzee.

But it could have been a different story for the four-time major winner if a spectator had not found his ball inside the five-minute time limit after a wild drive on the 17th, his eighth hole of the day.

McIlroy produced a superb recovery from thick rough to the elevated green and went on to make three birdies on the front nine in his penultimate tournament of an injury-plagued season, which the former world number one will bring to an early end after next week's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

It's not a bad way to feel, you're not really looking ahead at anything, you're just concentrating on the round out there and not thinking about anything else.

I feel like I'm not under any pressure to perform at all, I'm not putting myself under any pressure. That's probably the reason I've went out there and shot a decent score.

I think if you asked 75 per cent of the guys out here they would say it would be nice to have some sort of an off-season. I'm just giving myself an off-season this year and looking forward to improving my health, improving my game and becoming a better player in 2018."

– Rory McIlroy
Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/PA Images

Tournament host Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Matt Fitzpatrick, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter all shot 66, but Masters champion Sergio Garcia had to settle for a level-par 70. Defending champion Alex Noren finished one over.