New season, same Rory McIlroy. The Holywood star picked up where he left off in posting a sizzling five-under par round of 67 to sit just one shot off the pace after day one of the Farmers Insurance Open.
The 30-year old fired a magnificent seven birdies only blighted by two dropped shots but credited some last minute alterations to his driver for bringing out the best of him on day one.
“I drove the ball particularly well,’’ McIlroy said, having shifted from his SIM 9 degree driver on Wednesday following a chance meeting with Australian Jason Day. McIlroy was upset with how his new TaylorMade bat was performing in the Pro-Am but adjusted his clubhead to 10.5-degrees and turned the loft sleeve down two degrees to open the face and promote a fade – the exact same specs as TaylorMade stablemate Day who was enjoying success when the pair met on the range .
“That driver went in my bag at about 4pm [Wednesday] afternoon,’’ McIlroy explained. “I didn’t drive the ball particularly well in the pro-am, so I worked with the TaylorMade guys on the range and we figured a couple things out.
“It’s funny, you go through that testing process at the start of the year with new equipment and there’s things that seem really good on the range, but once you actually play some rounds with them competitively and try to hit certain shots, things sort of I guess appear. A couple things appeared that I didn’t like in the pro-am, so I worked with the guys at TaylorMade and we seemed to have fixed it.’’
With a booking driver in hand, McIlroy knows that a win this week would see him topple Brooks Koepka at the summit of the world golf rankings but he insists that’s not the expectation this week in Torrey Pines.
“I don’t know if there are any expectations, it’s just more see where your game is,’’ he said. “You hope to see some good stuff in practice, and then hopefully those good things you see translate onto the golf course and into some decent scores. It was nice today that it did translate.
“The stuff that I have been seeing at home and in practice, I was able to continue that out onto the golf course.
“I’m working on improving my game. I have no expectations going into this week. If [No. 1] doesn’t happen this week, hopefully I’ll have plenty more chances this year to get it done. It wasn’t on the radar a few months ago and now it is and that’s wonderful, but I just need to go out there and shoot a few more scores like I did today and all will be well.’’
Sebastian Cappelen and Keegan Bradley lead the way atop the board at six-under par but it’s the Danish rookie whose 66 was most impressive given he achieved the feat on the South Course – a track seeing a 73.69 average in round one compared to the North which was being playing at a milder 70.72.
Cappelen and Bubba Watson were the only players who managed to sneak into the top-10 on day one from the South Course starters.
Tiger Woods opened with a three-under par 69 on the easier North course layout.
Full scoring HERE