Rory McIlroy may need to get back into a police squad car after a no-frills three-under par 69 on the opening day of the BMW Championship in suburban Chicago.
In his first competitive round since being rescued by the local Lombard County constabulary and only just making his 2012 Ryder Cup Sunday Singles tee-time, McIlroy seven years on got caught up in Medinah traffic.
The World No. 3 and corresponding FedEx Cup No. 3 could manage just four birdies and dropped one shot to be trailing four strokes behind Justin Thomas and ‘Doc’s Best Bets Long Odds Glory Shot’ Jason Kokrak who was a seven-under par and in the clubhouse very late on day one in the $US 9.25m event.
There was a bizarre moment for McIlroy at the ninth that not only had a lot of spectators second-guessing but left one marshal certainly scratching his head.
We’re used to seeing McIlroy launch plenty of 330-yard plus drives but there was one shot that went unseen by those following McIlroy and also an elderly marshal.
McIlroy stepped onto the tee at the dog-leg left par-4 ninth hole measuring 452-yards and guarded down the left side by tall trees. No problem for McIlroy who easily cleared the height of the trees in landing his 325-yard drive slap bang on the fairway and only 120-yards from the flag.
The marshal standing on the corner of the dog-leg looked back to McIlroy with his hands outstretched if to say to McIlroy: “Where the hell did that go?”
Unfortunately, McIlroy failed to convert the drive with a birdie and headed to the homeward half at one-under par, before picking-up the pace with birdies in holing a three-footer for a gain at 11 and then sinking a 10-footer at the 15th.
Also signing for a 69 was fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell who had raced to four-under par through four holes. The round was capped with G Mac landing his 226-yard second shot at the par-5 fifth hole to 16-feet behind the flag ahead of holing the eagle putt.
McDowell sandwiched the eagle ‘3’ in between birdies at three and seven but then headed into the home half where he posted a 13th hole bogey in between eight pars.
In the bigger FedEx Cup standings, McDowell is projected to jump seven spots to 57th but he has to pick-up a further 27 spots if he’s to be heading next week to Atlanta.
Shane Lowry also struggled in his first showing at Medinah in posting a level par 72 that including three birdies and just as many bogeys.
Lowry arrived into the Windy City lying 25th on the FedEx Cup standings but is already projected to drop a dozen spots to 37th.
The Royal Portrush winning hero will need to be inside the top-30 on Sunday to be assured of heading to Atlanta for a first-ever appearance in the Tour Championship.
To the south-east of Chicago and Seamus Power has concerns of another kind in posting a horror five-over par on day one of the secondary Korn Ferry Tour finals three-event play-off series.
Power has staked his chances of regaining his full 2019/20 PGA Tour card by being among the leading 25 money-earners at the close of the trio of events.
He heads into day two in Columbus, Ohio a dozen shots off the lead.
Paul Dunne heads the trio of Irish after the opening round of the D+D Czech Masters in Prague.
Dunne posted four birdies in a two-under par 70 to be trailing Malaysian Gavin Green who seized nine birdies in a brilliant eight-under par 64 to lead the field by a shot.
Mt. Juliet’s Gavin Moynihan was a shot back of Dunne in signing for a one-under par 71.
Padraig Harrington has his work cut to be assured of playing all four rounds in the Czech capital after shooting a one-over par 73; two shots outside the projected one-under par cut-off mark.
For Green, it was a case of deja vu for the 24-year old who began the Czech event a year also with a 64 on route to finishing T3rd.
“I had four weeks off and was just at home and really just shut down for a few weeks,” said Green.
“I’ve been enjoying myself at home the last few weeks, eating a lot, sleeping a lot and driving my car – just being a regular person as opposed to practicing all the time. I didn’t practice for two weeks so a complete shut down, just enjoying life.”