(CNN)Rory McIlroy revealed he was being motivated by the feats of Jordan Spieth after shooting a three-under-par 69 on the opening day of the Players Championship in Florida.
Rory McIlroy: Jordan Spieth's achievements spurring me on
The world No.1 said the achievements of the 21-year-old Masters champion were inspiring him to push harder in his quest to remain the best player on the planet.
Last weekend, McIlroy warmed up for his 26th birthday by claiming his 10th PGA Tour win in San Francisco.
And he told reporters: "I think everyone -- not just me, but everyone on Tour -- was inspired by seeing Jordan do what he did at Augusta.
"It's always nice to have people pushing you, and I feel like he's one of the guys doing that right now."
And after continuing his fine form on day one at Sawgrass, McIlroy said he felt "sharp" and "comfortable."
The Irishman, whose round included an eagle at the 16th, was quickly into his stride as a confident start left him two shots off the lead -- currently shared by Hideki Matsuyama, David Hearn, Kevin Na and Charley Hoffman.
The 26-year-old said a patient approach had paid dividends in blustery conditions -- and it saw him outscore playing partner Spieth, who was left to rue a difficult day after bogeying his first two holes in a round of 75.
Former world No.1 Tiger Woods, meanwhile, hit a one-over-par 73.
McIlroy told the PGA Tour's website: "I did feel sharp. This is sort of the middle of a long stretch here.
"I have got three events in a row after this, so it's all about trying to conserve as much energy as possible and putting all that energy into the 18 holes that I'm going to play that day."
He said he had felt "comfortable" on the Sawgrass back nine, adding: "If I can keep up my good play on the back nine like I have, and be a little bit more consistent like I was on the front nine, then hopefully that bodes well for the week.
"I felt conditions got quite tricky out there at the end with the wind. It swirls a lot around here, and made club selection a little bit more difficult -- but I'm happy with the start for sure."
McIlroy stressed that he would not be reading too much into Spieth's early struggles, explaining: "When you get off to not a great start like Jordan did, it's hard to stay patient at times.
"But again, he could as easily come out tomorrow and be three under and you're back in the tournament. It doesn't take much to get back in."
And he revealed that, on the way round the course, he and Spieth had swapped ideas... about hairstyles.
"You have a Green Jacket. Your hair can be whatever you want it to be," he told the American.