Claude Harmon and Nick Dougherty look at the highs and lows of Rory McIlroy's opening 72 at the Honda Classic, which included an expensive last hole.
Rory McIlroy is determined to hit back from his “disappointing” finish to his opening round of the Honda Classic as he failed to build on a bright start.
McIlroy was two under after four holes, but the blustery conditions at PGA National soon took a toll as he bogeyed the sixth and seventh before grinding out 10 straight pars, but he found water at the last and closed with a double-bogey seven.
With less than 20 players under par on the opening day, McIlroy looked set to challenge the early leaders at four under when he followed a birdie at the long third with a perfect putt from 20 feet for another gain at the next.
But he was unable to get up and down from the greenside rough at six and seven, although he steadied himself with a solid run of pars while passing on the odd decent birdie chance, before setting himself up for a big finish by finding the middle of the fairway at the 18th.
However, attempting to hit the par-five in two with an aggressive 270-yard three-wood, McIlroy did not make the desired contact and came up short and right into the water hazard, and he needed four more to get down as he slipped to two over par.
“It was a pretty tough day,” McIlroy said afterwards. “The wind was up, the greens got a little crusty and firm and I felt like I was hanging on pretty well. I was doing everything I needed to do, just grinding out pars.
“I was pushing for a birdie at the last to try and shoot under par and just tried to hold a three-wood up into the wind and over did it a little bit. It was a disappointing finish, it was the right shot. I just didn’t execute it the right way.
“I’m obviously disappointed with how I finished today but excited to get a chance to go out there again, shoot a good score and find my way back up the leaderboard.”
Asked if he needed to adjust his game to combat the conditions, he added: “Not a whole lot. I feel like I was pretty solid out there and I didn’t do much wrong. I struggled to read the greens, and I hit a couple of putts that did the exact opposite of what I thought they were going to do.
“Just fairways, greens, and grind out pars and try to pick up birdies when they come along. But if the wind stays like this, it’s going to be a tough week.”
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McIlroy also insisted he was feeling fresh, fit and healthy in his fifth start of the year, and his third in consecutive weeks after competing at Pebble Beach and Riviera in California.
“Big picture? I’m so happy to be playing, and this is my third week in a row and don’t feel any ill effects from health-wise or mentally or anything like that,” he said. Usually when you play your third week in a row, you feel like you’re looking forward to the week off. But I feel great.”