Rory McIlroy suffered a disappointing finish to his opening round in the WGC-Cadillac Championship after a change of technique initially promised to pay instant dividends at Trump National Doral.
After missing the cut in the Honda Classic last week, McIlroy changed to a “crosshanded” putting method - with his left hand below the right on the grip - and vowed to stick with it regardless of the short-term outcome, with his bid to complete the career grand slam at the Masters just five weeks away.
“I felt like I played pretty solid actually,” McIlroy said.
“I made a couple of mistakes, but apart from that I felt ball-striking wise it was a good day.
“My speed wasn’t too good on the greens and I was leaving a lot of putts short. I guess it was to be expected as it’s the first day competitively with a bit of a new grip, but I felt like it was pretty good.
“It’s always disappointing to end the way I did. I just need to get out there tomorrow and try and pick up those shots quickly again and try to start from there.”
The early signs were promising as McIlroy carded five birdies and two bogeys in his first 10 holes on the famed ‘Blue Monster’ course alongside world number one Jordan Spieth and USPGA champion Jason Day.
But the 26-year-old then three-putted the eighth for par - the same hole where he threw his three-iron into a lake in frustration 12 months ago - and found the water with his tee shot on the ninth.
The resulting double bogey meant McIlroy had to settle for an opening round of 71, five shots behind clubhouse leader Scott Piercy, who carded eight birdies and two bogeys in a six-under-par 66.
“I was giving myself plenty of chances hitting a few fairways and a lot of greens,” McIlroy added.
“Probably took a couple of my opportunities, but not a whole lot.
“The good stuff’s in there, it’s just a matter of not hitting shots like the one I hit on nine.
“I just over did it. Maybe leaned on it a little bit too much and maybe being a little bit overly aggressive after making a par on the eighth hole.
“So it’s all these little things. It’s tiny margins and when you’re playing well and you’re sharp and you’re really on your game, you don’t make those mistakes.
“Right now, I’m struggling with that part of the game and I just need to tidy it up.”
Graeme McDowell, carded a two over par 74 while Shane Lowry joined McIlroy on one under par.
Spieth carded five birdies and two bogeys to finish three under, with world number two Day faring the worst of the marquee group with a level-par 72.
He said; “It was nice to try and get into a rhythm together because the last few weeks have been rough on the three of us.”