If ever a hole summed up Rory McIlroy’s season it was the 15th in the opening round of the BMW Championship. All his hard work undone by one shot, one hole.
When all said and done, Rory is well in this championship at three-under after a 68 but it could have been so much better. A triple-bogey six at the par-3 15th has left him four off the pace rather than just one.
McIlroy found the water on 15 and then three-putted for a six, but he was happy with his performance overall after an underwhelming showing last week.
“Yeah, much better than last week. Sort of feel like I shook off the rust a little bit. Started really well, made some good things. Yeah, just that one tee shot on 15. I felt like I had probably half a club too much, so I was trying to hit like a cut in there over the water, and I just double-crossed it and then compounded that by the three-putt.
“But overall the rest of it was pretty good. I mean, I knew once I got here last weekend, I knew it was a golf course that was going to suit me better than last week. It sort of would have been nice to flip them, like have my first event back after three weeks be this course and then Memphis next week. You just have to be so sharp around East Lake, as well, next week.
“But it was much better. Pleased with my game. Disappointed with how I finished, but encouraged with the rest of it.”
The four-time major champion was feeling positive about his week, saying the course in Delaware played into his wheelhouse and so it proved as he stormed to four-under through seven. The 32-year-old was pleased with how he scored compared to last week in Memphis where a tighter golf course played against him.
“Sort of how I played, how I scrambled. I hit a lot of quality golf shots, but the times that I didn’t hit good golf shots, being able to get the ball up-and-down, putting a little bit better — I scored better. I was just more efficient with my game, where last week — like I played okay, but I certainly turned — I finished okay on Thursday, but I definitely turned like a 5 or 6-under into a 1-under on Friday, and that was just sort of rust and not being as sharp as I wanted to be. Just a little sharper today, and hopefully that continues not just this week but obviously into next week, as well.”
In what could be a case of beware of the wounded animal, McIlroy feels primed to contend after getting back in the groove over the last ten days.
“I practiced really hard the week before Memphis just to get back into it after taking two full weeks off after the Open, but there’s a difference between practicing at home and camping out on the range and actually playing golf.
“So I knew I just needed even just a couple of competitive rounds last week in Memphis just to see where my game was, and then yeah, coming here early, working on some stuff, getting out on the golf course really. I’ve been on the golf course every day since Saturday here, so playing little games with Harry, him trying to set me scores to shoot, like trying to get myself into that sort of competitive mindset again.”
Only trailing Keegan Bradley by four, Rory will be taking encouragement from 17 of his 18 holes as he hunts down a third PGA Tour title of the season.
“I played much better today than I did last week, so I have to take the positives,” said the world number 3.
“I still played a decent round of golf. 3-under out there this afternoon was pretty good. I’ve just got to reset tonight and forget about that swing on 15 and go again tomorrow.”