Updated: Sunday, 20 July 2014 22:23 | By Agence France-Presse

McIlroy off to birdie start at Open as history beckons

Overnight leader Rory McIlroy began his final round on Sunday with a birdie as he extended his British Open lead to seven shots over American playing partner Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia.

McIlroy off to birdie start at Open as history beckons

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy watches his shot from the 1st tee during his fourth round, on the final day of the British Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Course in Hoylake, northwest England, on July 20, 2014 - by Peter Muhly

On a slightly overcast day at Hoylake, in stark contrast to the steady rain on Saturday, the Northern Irishman was bidding for a third major title to go with his 2011 US Open and 2012 PGA Championship titles. 

Victory would put the Northern Irishman alongside Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus as the only players in the game to have won three of the four majors by the time they were 25. 

A perfect start to his round, with a birdie at the par four first, laid down an early marker that McIlroy is in confident fettle as he bravely used a driver off the tee down the narrow opening fairway. 

Garcia of Spain had moved alongside Fowler on 10 under with an opening birdie while American Dustin Johnson was a further shot back.

Argentine Angel Cabrera was enjoying an excellent round as he moved up to seven under after 16 holes following six birdies. 

Irishman Shane Lowry also joined Cabrera in a tie for eighth with four birdies and no dropped shots. 

As the last pairing began their round in front of thousands of passionate golfing fans, some of the early starters were already in the clubhouse. 

Tiger Woods had his worst ever result as a pro at an Open Championship as he finished on six-over par and down in 69th while American Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson shot a four under 68 to finish on one over. 

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