Rory McIlroy rides adrenaline from first hole "bonus" to go low at The Open
He may not be a "cheerleader" for the four-time major winner, but you can certainly tell he is invested.
Rory McIlroy and first rounds at majors. They are usually his Achilles' heel.
Over the past six years, McIlroy's cumulative score for first rounds at majors was a shocking +34. In majors this year, it is -12.
Today at The Open Championship, the Holywood native went low. He carded a -6 round of 66 and finished two shots back from American Cam Young, who had eight birdies and no birdies in an exceptional 64 round.
It all started with a long, long putt for birdie that McIlroy described as a bonus, after over-cooking a wedge approach to the first. He later told Sky Sports:
"I hit a wedge way too hard... was just trying to get it to within a couple of feet, so it was a bonus to see it drop."
Further birdies followed on 5, 6 and 7 as McIlroy started running hot with his putter:
🗣️ "The ideal start for the Northern Irishman."
Back-to-back Birdies for Rory McIlroy 👏 pic.twitter.com/MyaVBNGR6E
— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) July 14, 2022
Paul McGinley like so many of us watching Rory McIlroy
Out in a -4 score of 32, Rory McIlroy gave himself a look at a long eagle putt when he drove to the bottom tier of the green on the par-4 12th hole.
Paul McGinley, who previously captained McIlroy at The Ryder Cup, was on punditry duty for Sky Sports and he loved how he 33-year-old was looking at St Andrew's.
"He's comfortable," purred McGinley. "He's playing within himself."
In the past, some McIlroy supporters have felt he has been too harsh in his commentary on the four-time major winner.
Asked about that view, by us, in 2020, McGinley said, "Listen, my job at Sky is not to be a cheerleader for Rory.
"I've got to give a balanced view of what I see. That's my duty as an analyst, and it's important that I don't cross that line. And, yeah, I'm hard on him, in some ways, but I'm also very supportive of him too."
McIlroy rattled the flag-stick with his long eagle putt, but the ball only finished a couple of feet away and it left a simple birdie putt that was dropped. He was up to -5 with six to play.
'You need to get your scores, going out' - Rory McIlroy
In the only blemish of his round, Rory McIlroy dropped back to -4 with a bogey on the 13th but followed that with a birdie on the par-5 14th.
15, 16 and, despite one of the best drives of the day, 17 all brought pars. The 18th can be reached with a solid tee shot, and a big chance to finish with a birdie. McIlroy did just that, driving to the left fringe and putting to within two feet away.
Down dropped birdie number seven of the day and it was a fine round of -66. After carding for that -6 round - two shots back from Cam Young - McIlroy told Sky Sports:
"I played well. Very solid. Everyone knows, on this golf course, you need to get your scores, going out, and I did that. Started off with a bonus on the first, so got the adrenaline going... I birdied the holes I needed to, today, and only made one mistake."
The former Open champion looked steady and relaxed out at St Andrew's, and took most of the chances he chiselled out for himself. Heading into the second round, he is well set and well placed.
Elsewhere, Shane Lowry carded a level par round of 72 while Seamus Power was one shot worse off, signing off with a 73. Pádraig Harrington, David Carney and Ronan Mullarney were the later Irish starters at The Old Course.
"I've always loved coming to Ireland."
Ahead of the 150th Open Championship, Tiger Woods spoke about why he loves playing golf in Ireland and his favourite courses to play.