Tuesday 22 August 2017

'The rib is fine, it's great actually' - Rory McIlroy's stunning eagle putt as he returns to action with a bang

Rory McIlroy blasts from a bunker during practice for the World Golf Championships Mexico Championship at Club De Golf Chapultepec on March 1, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy blasts from a bunker during practice for the World Golf Championships Mexico Championship at Club De Golf Chapultepec on March 1, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Rory McIlroy enjoyed a hugely encouraging start on his return to competitive action, as he carded a solid three under par opening round of 68 to move into contention in the WGC-Mexico Championship.

McIlroy has played only one tournament in 2017, as he battled a rib injury while losing to Graeme Storm in a play-off for the South African Open in January.

The Irish man may not have been in competitive action in recent weeks, but he has not been far from the headlines following his controversial round alongside US President Donald Trump last month, which sparked plenty of controversy.

World No.3 McIlroy must have been pleased to get back to what he does best at Chapultepec Golf Club, where he knows a victory will propel his back to the top of the world rankings next week, so long as current number one Dustin Johnson finished joint fourth or worse.

Starting on the back nine of a course which reaches a maximum of 7,800 feet above sea level, McIlroy holed from 15 feet for birdie on the par-five 11th and added seven pars in succession to reach the turn in 35.

He dropped his first shot of the day by three-putting the fifth from long range, but produced the ideal response by holing from 30 feet for an eagle on the par-five sixth.

The four-time major winner was reported to be under the weather in the build-up to the event, but still signed put together an encouraging round on a day when veteran Englishman Lee Westwood and the equally mature Phil Mickelson returning to form to piece together classy rounds as they finished one ahead of McIlroy at four under at the top of the leaderboard.

"The rib is fine, it's great actually," McIlroy said in an interview broadcast on Sky Sports.

"How I've responded the last couple of weeks, ramping up the practice and then playing my first full competitive round today, I didn't feel it at all so all positive in that regard.

"I probably could have played the Honda (Classic) last week, but I wasn't going to know how my body was going to react playing four days in a row.

"I'm taking next week off to see how everything reacts and responds so it was the logical place to come back. I stayed patient and the week longer will definitely pay off."

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