Video: Rory McIlroy off to a flier with audacious chip-in for birdie
Published 29/10/2015 | 10:56
Former world number one Rory McIlroy discovered the perfect solution to his putting problems as the Turkish Airlines Open got under way in Antalya today.
McIlroy believes his putting has held him back since returning from the ankle injury which ruled him out of the Scottish Open and the defence of his Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational titles this summer.
The 26-year-old admitted it was more of a mental than a technical problem after finishing 26th in the Frys.com Open a fortnight ago and has been working on simplifying his routine.
But after missing from 25 feet for birdie on his first hole in Turkey, the four-time major winner did not even need to get his putter out of the bag on the par-five 11th, chipping in from just off the green for a birdie.
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At one under par, McIlroy was two shots off the early lead shared by six players, including English trio David Howell, Chris Wood and Richard Bland, with playing partners Danny Willett and Shane Lowry level par.
McIlroy has a lead of 271,214 points over Willett as he looks to win the Race to Dubai for the third time in four years, although the first prize in each of the four Final Series events is more than 1.3million.
McIlroy has a new driver in the bag this week and used it to good effect to almost drive the green on the short par-four 15th, but hit a clumsy chip and narrowly missed the long birdie attempt.
Another birdie chance went begging on the 16th to leave McIlroy one behind Lowry, who had birdied the 13th and 15th, and four off the pace being set by Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello and England's Robert Rock.
Cabrera-Bello had covered the back nine in 33 and carded pars on the first and second, while Rock had made a stunning start with birdies on the first four holes.
The new driver was not so well-behaved on the 18th as McIlroy hooked his tee shot so far off line that he feared it could be lost and hit a provisional ball.
Having found his first ball at the base of a tree, the Northern Irishman was then forced to play left-handed to pitch out onto the fairway and came up short of the green with his third shot, but pitched to eight feet and holed out for an adventurous par.