Friday 25 May 2018

'Three holes derailed my round' - Rory McIlroy vows to bounce back after sluggish start to PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy reacts as his birdie putt on the seventh green rolls towards the cup. Photo: AP
Rory McIlroy reacts as his birdie putt on the seventh green rolls towards the cup. Photo: AP
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Roy McIlroy was left to bemoan three poor holes on the back nine of his opening round at the PGA Championship as he allowed a promising position to slip on the opening day of the final major of the year at Quail Hollow.

McIlroy is five shots off leaders Kevin Kisner and Thorbjorn Olesen, but it could have been so much better after a brilliant chip in at the third (below) appeared to set McIlroy on his way at one of his favourite courses.

He headed into the back nine at one under par after three birdies in the first half of his round, but a bogey at the 13th and a double bogey at the 14th left him scrambling to save his round, with four straight pars leaving the Irishman wanting more.

"If someone had have told me going out that I was going to shoot one over par, I probably wouldn't have taken it, but seeing the course out there, it played pretty tricky.

"It would have been nice to shoot under par, but I played three holes on the back nine at 13, 14 and 15 in three over par and that derailed my round. You expect to play those holes in even or under par and if I had done that, my scorecard would gave looked very different.

"I have a chance tomorrow morning to get the shots back. I will get up early in the morning and get right back at it."

McIlroy is joined at one over par by Jordan Spieth, who is aiming to become the youngster player to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the only major that has elsued him so far this week.

Starting on the back nine alongside fellow 2017 major winners Koepka and Sergio Garcia, Spieth opened with five pars before carding his first birdie on the par-five 15th, only to promptly give the shot back on the next after finding two bunkers.

Spieth also bogeyed the first, one of the new holes constructed at Quail Hollow immediately after it hosted last year's Wells Fargo Championship, after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker.

And when he three-putted the fifth and sixth from just off the green, the world number two was in danger of seeing his title challenge ruined on the opening day.

However, birdies on the next two holes - courtesy of what Spieth described as a "phenomenal" hybrid into the par-five seventh and a "fantastic" wedge to the eighth - repaired most of the damage.

"Historically I'm pretty solid with the lead so that was kind of the goal," Spieth said. "It's much easier when you are on the front page of the leaderboard than it is coming from behind.

"Given it's the first round I know I'm still in it, but I know that tomorrow's round becomes that much more important to work my way and stay in it. I've got to make up ground.

"If I'm five back at the start of the day, I've got to be less than five back after Friday to really feel like I can play the way this golf course needs to be played and still be able to win.

"I drove the ball well today. If you told me I was going to hit my driver the way that I did today, I would have definitely thought I shot a few under par. I can't putt any worse than I did today."

Meanwhile, there was misery for Phil Mickelson, who recorded a miserable round of 79.

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