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McIlroy opens Aussie defense with 69

(AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

SYDNEY (AP) Rory McIlroy's defense of his Australian Open title began with a 2-under 69 on a cool, overcast and often drizzly morning at The Australian Golf Club.

McIlroy, winner of back-to-back majors this year at the British Open and U.S. PGA, began play on the back nine and made the turn at even-par after a birdie and a bogey. He birdied the first hole of his second nine, added another at the par-5 fifth, but made bogey on the seventh.

He finished strongly, hitting his approach on the ninth to less than two feet and making an easy birdie. McIlroy was a stroke behind Australian Aron Price, who was the best of the morning groupings with a 68.

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Money Leaders: European
Rank Player Earnings
1 R.McIlroy €7,149,503
2 H.Stenson €4,981,093
3 J.Rose €3,180,388
4 J.Donaldson €3,058,167
5 V.Dubuisson €2,966,524
6 S.Garcia €2,861,930
7 M.Siem €2,739,373
8 B.Koepka €2,631,873
9 A.Levy €2,452,757
10 S.Lowry €2,173,864
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