Rory McIlroy has proved his critics so very wrong and gone into the US Masters 2011 with a bang, taking the lead after the opening round on Thursday 7th April. The 21-year old who hails from Northern Ireland played in his first professional European Tour event as a 16-year-old in 2005 at The Forest of Arden. And the teen prodigy went on to turn professional at just 17.

On the opening day in Augusta, he surged clear of the field on day one after shooting a seven-under-par 65 and was later joined by Alvaro Quiros at the top of the leaderboard, putting him straight to top of the bookies favourites list.

Despite such a positive start, there are fears that history may repeat itself. McIlroy went two strokes better when taking the lead of the Open at St. Andrews last July but then slumped to a second-round 80 when the wind worsened.

However, speaking after his flawless round on Thursday, McIlroy said he now feels better prepared to deal with adversity. “At the time, it was very disappointing,” he said of his second-round collapse at St. Andrews. “But looking back, it was probably very valuable in my progression as a golfer. I hope it will help me,” he said. “I have that experience to draw on, especially being in a similar position to last year at St. Andrews.”

“I feel like I'm better prepared to tee off in the second round of a major with the lead.”