The Men’s Individual Stroke Play began in Tokyo today with Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy representing Team Ireland at Kasumigaseki County Club.
Having got underway and moved well into their back nines, McIlroy & Lowry had to stop and endure a two-hour delay due to lightning in the area before play resumed at 4.15pm local time, where McIlroy and Lowry resumed at the 14th hole.
Despite a missed birdie opportunity on the restart, McIlroy did get one on 15 before closing out his opening round of 69 for 2-under par. Now officially an Olympian, he has had time to reflect on what that means to him and for golf generally.
“It felt pretty good,” he reflected. “As a golfer, when golf first got into the Olympics I had a feeling of what it would mean for the game – but you get a different feeling and perspective once you’re here, and it’s cool. Our sport is so new that you have to put yourself in a position to think further down the line. I think the Olympics in 20 or 30 years’ time is going to be on a par with the Majors we play.”
The last three events that both McIlroy and Lowry have played have been in vastly different conditions to Tokyo where there is high humidity and heat, but McIlroy doesn’t feel this will affect his game.
“I prefer these conditions than what we faced in Scotland and The Open. I’m more comfortable in these conditions. I live in the States and am used to the heat, but it has been a long day, just with delays and the heat, so I’m looking forward to getting back, getting some food, get into bed and doing it all again tomorrow.”
Meanwhile Shane Lowry closed with a round of 70 on a day where he struggled to gain momentum, but the Offaly golfer is confident of his ability to progress up the leader board.
“I feel like I played OK, I hit a lot of greens but hit it to 30-40 feet most of the day so I feel a bit frustrated. I didn’t really hit it on the fairway off the tee enough. There are a few parts of my game that I need to brush up on, but I feel like I putted quite well, I just was so far away that you’re not really holing much. I think I need to be a bit more aggressive tomorrow on my approach play. There are three rounds left, so you just need to play your own game and be patient.”
McIlroy and Lowry begin their second rounds tomorrow from 00:25am Irish time.