Rory McIlroy will ‘sleep a bit better’ after rallying to level-par 70 at Open

Two years after starting the Open Championship with a quadruple-bogey eight, Rory McIlroy began his first round at Royal St George’s with a birdie three.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 6:00 am

And although the four-time major winner was unable to build on that ideal start, McIlroy was happy to battle back from a hat-trick of bogeys on the front nine to card a level-par 70.

“It probably doesn’t make a huge difference at one over or even this early in the tournament, but mentally it feels a bit better to birdie the last and I’m looking forward to getting back out tomorrow,” McIlroy said. “Tommy (Fleetwood) shot a great 67 which is probably the best of our wave in the afternoon. Benjamin Hebert shot 66 but was out a touch earlier than us.

“When we were warming up it felt like a nice breeze but when we got out there, especially out by the water, it was really windy. Anything around even par today was pretty good.

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Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy during day one of The Open. Pic by PA.

“After that little wobble on the front nine I set myself a little target of getting back to even par and I was able to achieve that and that feels good. I’ll probably sleep a bit better tonight and feel a bit better going into the second round.”

Asked about the difference between his opening hole at Royal Portrush in 2019 and today, McIlroy added: “No out of bounds on this first hole, it’s nice.

“One of the things I struggled with the last couple of weeks was the driver and to hit a tee shot like that down the first, 350 (yards) or whatever down the middle and then stuff a wedge close was the perfect start.

“I drove the ball way better than I have the last couple of weeks.”

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