McIlroy finds the boring golf he has been looking for in Texas

Ronan MacNamara

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Brennan Asplen/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Rory McIlroy may be six shots off the pace after the opening round of the Valero Texas Open but his bogey free round of 69 was a glimpse of what might be to come at the Masters next week.

McIlroy carded three birdies and fifteen pars in a steady opening effort with birdies coming at the second and seventeenth, either side of a 13-foot birdie on 8 that saw the ball hang on the lip and fall into the hole courtesy of a gust of wind at TPC San Antonio.

“I backed off the ball twice because of the wind. I could feel the wind at my back, so I’m like do I play the wind, do I not play the wind? When I ended up hitting the putt, there wasn’t really a ton of wind there and I thought I missed it on the left side. Obviously the ball hung on the edge and I was just hoping for a gust of wind to come to blow it in and thankfully it did before the 10-second mark,” explained McIlroy.

It leaves the Holywood man in a share of eight place on three-under as he looks up at Akshay Bhatia but the statistics make for slightly better reading as he ranks 29th in strokes gained approach having hit 11 of 18 greens.

What McIlroy found most pleasing was that he kept the big numbers off the card and managed to grind out a good score in tricky conditions.

“I thought it was a little better. Yeah, it was good. The miss I was struggling with the last few weeks has been a left miss with the irons and if anything, most of my misses today were to the right, so it was actually a pretty good thing. I’d much rather miss it to the right at the minute than miss it to the left.

“Yeah, I thought I played pretty well, hit some nice shots, played pretty consistently. I think it’s the first round I’ve had without a bogey in quite a while. My game over the last couple months has been quite volatile, so to go out there and play a solid round of golf in pretty tricky conditions, pretty happy with it.”

Meanwhile, Seamus Power and Padraig Harrington’s Masters aspirations took a serious hit. With both players needing a win to earn an invite to Augusta National next week, they lie on one-over and three-over respectively.

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