Rory McIlroy hopes he can conserve enough energy to challenge for more silverware after outshining playing partner Jordan Spieth in the opening round of the Players Championship.
Much has been made about a possible rivalry between the two top ranked players in the world, but while McIlroy carded a first round of 69 at Sawgrass, Masters champion Spieth struggled to a 75.
That left McIlroy just two shots off the lead shared by Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Canada’s David Hearn and American pair Kevin Na and Charley Hoffman, but the 26-year-old is in the midst of a run of five straight events after claiming the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship in San Francisco on Sunday.
“It’s all about conserving energy,” said McIlroy, who will play at Quail Hollow next week before making the trip over the Atlantic to defend his BMW PGA Championship title at Wentworth and then host the Irish Open at Royal County Down.
“It’s a long stretch of golf and I want to make sure I am 100 per cent focused when I am out there playing.”
McIlroy carded two birdies, an eagle and one bogey in his 69 and has now covered the back nine of the Stadium Course in 33 or better in his last five rounds.
“There’s a lot of chances on that back nine,” he added. “I just feel comfortable on it, feel comfortable on the closing stretch, so if I can keep up my good play on the back nine like I have and be a little bit more consistent like I was on the front nine, then hopefully that bodes well for the week.”