Rory McIlroy drew upon a change in ‘attitude’ to grab five birdies in a two-under par 69 on the opening day of the Northern Trust near Boston, Massachusetts.
McIlroy had spoken on the eve of the opening ‘Play-Off Series’ event about how he intended to let his golf dictate his attitude rather than vice versa and he did that in bright but crisp conditions on the host TPC Boston course.
The current World No. 3 is a two-time winner around the course located just a 15-minute drive from Gillette Stadium and home to the NFLs New England Patriots.
And McIlroy landed plenty of touchdown drives and putts to give himself a decent yardage heading into the remaining rounds of the Euro 7.9m event.
It is only the third time in seven events since the lifting of the PGA Tour lockdown on June 11th he’s managed to break 70 on an opening day.
McIlroy spoke on the eve of the event of his reaction to the ups-and-downs of pro golf, indeed, in his six events since the return to golf, McIlroy’s managed a best of T11th.
“It’s all about how you react and respond to certain things,” he said.
“So, I’ve got this nice quote that I got from someone last week, and it’s like let — don’t let your golf influence your attitude; let your attitude influence your golf.”
McIlroy commenced his round from the 10th tee but it was a similar scenario for the Ulster golfer since his mid-June return to competition in posting a pair of bogeys.
McIlroy missed the green right at the par-4 14th in taking a ‘5’ and then had to chip out sideways following an errant drive down the right side of the 13th before two-putting from 25-feet for another bogey ‘5’.
Finally, McIlroy found forward gears in holing an eight-footer for birdie on the par-4 15th before getting back to level par for his round in landing his tee-shot just 10-feet right of the flag at the par-3 16th for a birdie ‘2’.
McIlroy then got himself into the red in finding the green in two at the par-5 18th and two-putting for a third birdie in four holes.
He went to two-under par for his round after finding the green in two at the par-5 second hole, the 11th of McIlroy’s round.
McIlroy gave a shot back at the next in finding a greenside bunker at the par-3 12th but a four-footer for a birdie ‘3’ on the 14th hole of his round got him back to two-under ahead of four closing pars.
McIlroy headed to the clubhouse then sharing 22nd place and trailing five shots behind American Harris English who grabbed an eagle and seven birdies in a seven-under par 64 on the par-71 layout.
And spare of thought for Matthew Fitzpatrick who posted a horror six-over par 77 playing in the company of the 15-time major winning Tiger Woods.
Fitzpatrick, 25 has won five-times on the European Tout but is yet to break through on the PGA Tour but the Englishman did not get one break nor could he buy a putt.
In contrast, Woods grabbed five birdies in a three-under par 68 and this after the 15-time Major winner was observed ahead of tee-off with a physio applying ‘hot’ oil to his neck and lower back.
“They were putting some pretty hot oils on there but then my lower back is used to it,” said Woods smiling.
“It’s accustomed to it. We do it all the time just so I can get loose. I decided to put some up on my neck, and it’s not as tolerant as my lower back, so it gets awfully hot.
“It’s common in pretty much every other sport and especially hockey, those guys put some pretty hot stuff on their legs, but you become accustomed to it.
“My lower back is pretty immune to it, but my neck is not.”
Jonathon Caldwell again finds himself the leading Irishman and this time after the opening round of the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor.
Caldwell posted a one-over par 72, the same score he posted four days ago on the same course on route to sharing 22nd place in the Celtic Classic.
Ardglass’ Cormac Sharvin signed for a 73, Paul Dunne a 74 while Gavin Moynihan had a horror ‘no birdies’ 77.
The duo of Scotland’s Connor Syme and England Jordan Smith lead the field with five-under par 66s.
Syme is looking to make amends after going into last Sunday’s final day with a one shot lead but slumping to a share of third.