World No 1 Rory McIlroy admitted the Harbour Town Golf Links presents a tricky problem for him after he had to produce a closing-nine revival to even card a one-over-par 72 in his opening round at the RBC Heritage in South Carolina.
Starting on the 10th, McIlroy struggled to a three-over-par opening nine before managing to arrest the slide with two birdies on the way in.
So much for Nick Faldo's criticism last weekend that unravelling rounds present 'too much frustration' for the County Down star to cope with.
Nevertheless, he's well aware that his partial recovery only papers over cracks in his game - most surprisingly off the tee. In what is a narrow course, McIlroy struggled to find his normal rhythm, finding rough or trees well wide of the fairways on five occasions.
"I'm sort of missing my three wood left and missing my driver right," he explained. "If you're in any way in two minds what to do off the tees around here and get a little bit sort of guidey, it can bite you."
On his disappointing first nine, McIlroy hit just three greens and four of seven fairways. It was from one of those wayward tee-shots that his first bogey of the day arrived at the 11th, his second, although it could ultimately be put down to a poor chip.
The same could be said of his drop shot at the ninth, his poorly-played pitch failing to reach the green.
In between, it was questionable course management that cost him at the par-five 15th, an attempted wood out of the trees only finding more trouble and eventually resulting in a bogey six. If ever there was a time to grind, it was then and McIlroy responded with seven greens in regulation on the way home.
A neat up-and-down from the greenside bunker on the short par-five fifth was followed by a bonus 30-foot birdie putt on his last hole of the day to haul McIlroy back to one over par.
He last played at the South Carolina course back in 2009, when he finished two over par in a tie for 58th, level par his best round of the week back then.
"I just can remember not being that comfortable around here in 2009, and it's still sort of the same," he said. "I just wasn't as committed today as I need to be around here. Once you do get it in play, you can give yourself plenty of chances."
Ian Poulter did just that as he carded a seven-under-par 64. Jordan Spieth finished two behind the Englishman despite a triple-bogey seven on the 12th, his third hole of the day.
Shane Lowry, meanwhile, will have his work cut out after an opening three-over 74 yesterday as Graeme McDowell carded a 75.
At the King & Bear Classic, Seamus Power's three-under-par 69 yesterday failed to make up for an opening 78.
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