Rory McIlroy said he and Justin Rose forced themselves not to speak about the recent bombshell golf merger so they could focus on golf during the opening round of the RBC Canadian Open.
McIlroy admitted he felt fatigued on Tuesday and Wednesday as he dealt with the news and fielded questions during a lengthy press conference but felt good to be back playing golf as he birdied his last hole to post a one-under 71 to leave himself four shots off the early lead held by Aaron Rai, Justin Lower, Chesson Hadley and home favourite Corey Conners.
“Rosie and I said, All right, no chatting until lunch so that we can actually concentrate on what we’re doing out there. We started to get in a conversation walking down the 1st and we’re like, No, let’s stop this. Let’s just focus on our golf and we’ll say what we want to say when we get inside. So it was nice to play a round of golf and focus on something else for those five hours we were out there.
“I got a good night’s sleep last night. So it was nice to sort of recharge the batteries. I would say my energy levels on Tuesday and Wednesday were diminishing quite quickly. But I slept well last night and honestly felt — it was an early start this morning. Alarm went at 4:15. But I felt good out there.”
It was an understandably scrappy opening for the four-time major winner who hit just six of fifteen fairways at Oakdale Country Club but he managed to get it in the clubhouse under par despite two bogeys on par fives.
McIlroy opened with a birdie on 10 before handing it back on the par-5 12th. Two birdies in three holes was a welcome reprieve before bogeys on 1 and 5 halted his momentum.
“Course is good. It’s penal. If you miss fairways the rough is very, very thick. Yeah, and I didn’t, I mean, I hit a few, but — I certainly hit a few loose shots and got myself out of position and the golf course does start to get quite tricky from there. So need to do a better job of just putting my ball in play off the tee. Then from there the golf course is still quite scorable.”
McIlroy admitted that Wednesday was the most uncomfortable he has felt off the golf course in the last twelve months.
“Off, you know, the most uncomfortable I’ve felt in the last 12 months was my press conference yesterday.”
Shane Lowry is five shots off the lead on level-par after a 72 while Monday qualifier David Carey is a shot further back.