There was no celebration for Rory McIlroy despite a bizarre incident in his return after nine years at the 100th anniversary Valero Texas Open in San Antonio.
It was a no-frills rollercoaster level-par 72 opening round display from World No. 9 in the Alamo City as McIlroy looks for on-course form ahead of the Masters.
The only excitement, if you call it that, was at the 17th hole or the eighth of his round when his tee shot ended under a parked car.
McIlroy’s tee shot was way right and came to rest under the vehicle. He managed to retrieve the ball, was given a free drop and brilliantly chipped from 60-yards to tap-in distance for the most amazing of birdies
McIlroy had teed-off from the 10th tee and was soon on the back foot with bogeys at the 11th and 13th holes in warm and still conditions of the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio course.
McIlroy then got back to even in holing three birdie putts of just a foot at the par-5 14th, a 16-foot birdie at the par- 3 16th, and then moved to one-under with a tap-in birdie at the next, and the hole where his ball ran under the parked car.
Though one-under would be the lowest McIllroy managed in the Euro 7.76m event as he bogeyed the 18th or his ninth hole, and then from the second hole he went par, bogey, bogey and birdie to be back to level. McIlroy played a superb greenside bunker shot to seven feet at the eighth or his 17th hole to move back to one-under for a third time in his round. However, he missed the fairway right up the last before two-putting for bogey and his level par 72.
Fellow former Irish Open winner Russell Knox was headed for a dip in the pool, boosting hopes of the last invitation into the Masters with a sizzling 65 to lead late on the opening day.
The 36-year-old Scot had plenty of the sponsor’s product in the tank with a bogey-free display of seven birdies, and also the first time in 15 rounds he’s broken 70 on the Greg Norman-designed course.
“It was a great day with plenty of good things happening, such as the sneaky chip-in at seven, and good up-and-downs to keep the round going on the front nine,” said Knox.
“I then kept hitting good shots on the inward half, so it was just a nice day to capitalise on my good play.
“If there was a key to my round, it was my driver, and I’ve worked hard on my driver. The club has always been a strength of my game, and while it fell away, I have some great thoughts when I stand over the ball on the tee.
“It’s been building for months now. To see good drives on tricky holes is great so my confidence is so good with the driver is the highest it’s been in years.
“So, in saying that it’s swimming pool time for me (smiling)”.
Danish 21-year-old sensation Rasmus Hojgaard tied Knox with a birdie at his 10th and then went one clear of the field with a birdie at his 15th ahead of making a mess of his last in posting a double-bogey ‘6’ in a score of 66 to be lying second at six-under.
Matt Kuchar celebrated his 500th PGA Tour event to be well-placed with a five-under-par 67 and in the clubhouse in third place.
I didn’t know it was my 500th Tour event till I got here on Monday”, said Kuchar.
“Looking back it has been a ride and I’ve enjoyed every tournament, and it’s been fun meeting so many friends out here, and sharing it all with the family”.
And Graeme McDowell posted a disappointing two-over 74.