Rory McIlroy got his latest attempt at a career Grand Slam off to an inauspicious start at Augusta National and at the end of play found himself seven shots off the pace set by Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau.
McIlroy, who was among the bookies favourites at the start of play got off to a bad start, and just like Shane Lowry carded a bogey on his opening hole having found trees on the right off the tee, hacked out and then saw his par putt skim the side of the hole from 20 feet.
A birdie miss following a nice chip to 8 feet on the 2nd was followed by a bombed 319 drive on the third, leaving him just 37 yards for his second shot and he made no mistake this time with a holed 5-footer for birdie.
McIlroy was incredibly unlucky to bogey the 4th after his tee shot to the 180-yard par-3 landed 15 feet from the hole on the top of a huge slope, rested a few seconds and then trickled down off the front of the green and while he almost holed his chip he could only look at the hole as his par putt slipped by.
On the par-5 8th his 246-yard second shot ran just over the back of the green, he almost holed his sublime chip for eagle, before tapping in the easiest of birdie putts, which brought him back to level par.
Par at the ninth was followed by back to back bogeys on 10 and 11 but McIlroy then went on a run as he birdied the par-5 13th to get back to one over and then the 15th after playing a superb 7-iron second shot from 203 yards which had to fly under one branch and over another and then could only watch again as his eagle putt just slipped by the hole.
A 35-foot birdie putt on 16 moved him to one under par but his good work was undone with two closing bogeys which made it six in total for the day.
“The conditions weren’t that difficult and I felt the course was there. It’s soft, there’s not much wind and I made five birdies, I just made too many mistakes. Mistakes from simple positions like just off the green, prime examples being 17 and 18.
“I’ve been through it all on this golf course and you know you’re going to have chances. And I can accept mistakes if I’m trying and it’s not a mental error so I can accept some mistakes but six bogeys out there is too many and I’m hoping to tidy that up over the next few days.
McIlroy clearly has some work to do ahead of tomorrow was headed away to attend to some issues; “I’m going to go to the putting green right now and try and sort this out. Reads more than anything else, I over-read a few early on and started under-reading them coming in so I’m going to work on that a little bit.
“When the greens are a little slower they don’t break as much and they’re maybe 2 or 3 feet slower than usual right now. They will get faster as the week goes on so it’s just a matter of adjusting.”
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