Rory McIlroy hits back at former coach Butch Harmon after first round at the Open

Holywood's Rory McIlroy is going well at the Open
Holywood's Rory McIlroy is going well at the Open

Rory McIlroy hit back at suggestions from Butch Harmon that he looked robotic after shooting an opening-round 69 at the Open.

Renowned coach Harmon suggested the former world number one’s putting stroke looked too mechanical as he practised at Carnoustie this week.

McIlroy has not won a major in four years with his touch on the greens being regarded as one of his shortcomings of late.

“He looks like a robot out there when I see him practice putting,” said Sky Sports pundit Harmon.

McIlroy was unconcerned by the remarks.

The 2014 Open champion said: “Look, I like Butch (but) definitely I would say I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum than someone that’s mechanical.

“It’s easy to make comments when you don’t know what’s happening.

“I haven’t spoken to Butch in a long time. He doesn’t know what I’m working on in my swing, he doesn’t know what’s in my head.

“So it’s easy to make comments and easy to speculate but, unless you actually know what’s happening, I just really don’t take any notice of it.”

McIlroy was pleased enough with his position after the first round despite admitting his performance was a mixed one.

The 29-year-old managed to hit just four out of 15 fairways from the tee and missed some short putts but he picked up three birdies and dropped just one shot.

The Holywood man said: “I didn’t see the fairway much but it’s very playable from not in the fairway. As long as you don’t hit it in the fairway bunkers, you’re always going to have a shot at the green.

“That’s why I tried to stay as aggressive as I possibly could even though I wasn’t hitting the driver maybe as well as I could.

“It wasn’t pretty off the tee but I got it done and I took advantage of some unfortunate bounces. I would have taken 69 to start the day.”

“Hopefully I’ll hit a few more fairways but I’ll adopt the same strategy and hit a few good shots and stay in the hunt.”