McIlroy beats the fading light to shoot under-par at Torrey

John Craven

Rory McIlroy plays his tee shot on the seventh hole during the first round at the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Calif. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (Robert Beck/USGA)

Rory McIlroy holed a closing birdie putt in the dark to sign for a one-under 70 and the ideal start on the opening day of the US Open at Torrey Pines.

The four-time Major winner, whose Achilles heel in the Majors of late has been his slow starts, traded four birdies with three bogeys in an opening effort – delayed 90 minutes due to morning fog – that leaves him in a tie for 11th, just three back of the leaders.

“It was good,” McIlroy reflected, who made two birdies to the turn in a bogey-free outward nine. “I got off to a really good start with a birdie at the 1st. I played well, I played solid. I didn’t miss a green until the 7th hole and I was able to chip that in, which was a bonus.

“But that’s the key around here, you can get away with some wayward shots off the tee, and I did today, but I was able to recover well and hit greens. And if you can just keep hitting greens out here, that’s the name of the game and I did that well.”

Gaining 1.3 strokes off the tee on day one in San Diego, McIlroy hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation and needed 28 putts, a pleasing opening day’s work and an extra hour of sleep on Friday after beating the fading light to the Torrey Pines clubhouse.

“It was nice to get in, get an extra hour of sleep tonight and it was a bonus to birdie in as well,” McIlroy added.

“Everything felt pretty good. I think as the course gets firmer we’re just going to really have to dial in. You might have 170 to a pin, but you’re really trying to land it like 160, 162. So just really being aware of how firm the course is getting, just have to really concentrate on that.”

Shane Lowry will hope to avoid any lapses in concentration after a four-putt led to a fourth hole triple-bogey on day one at Torrey. The 34-year old recovered brilliantly to fire three birdies in a one-over 72, good enough for a share of 41st ahead of what will be a hopeful fast start on Friday.

With play suspended due to darkness, American Russell Henley signed for a four-under 67 to take the early lead, with South African Louis Oosthuizen also at four-under par with two holes to play of his opening round.

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